Chronic diseases like diabetes are on the rise, mostly due to the outdated self-serving concepts of nutrition that are propagated in the media and advertising. One of the life changing impacts of diabetes is amputations of limbs. The loss of work and the negative economic impact along with the loss of mobility and ability to exercise after an amputation will often lead to a rapid spiral of illness that hastens death.
There are many new medications available in the USA to treat diabetes that have been introduced over the past 10 years. It was a disappointment that new research published in “Diabetes Care” suggested that the incidence of people living with diabetes who are requiring amputations is also on the rise. It was expected that these new medications would at least help prevent serious complication from diabetes.
Also uncovered was the shocking news that the largest increases in diabetes associated amputations was in younger age people than was previously seen in similar research data. When a working age person has a diabetic amputation the economic impact is felt by the whole family especially if that person is the main income earner.
Diabetic amputation is usually the end result of a condition called diabetic foot. Amputation is due to a combination of a decrease of nerve sensation, poor blood flow to the feet, impaired immune function leading to infection, all caused from poor control of diabetes. People can reduce their risk of amputation thru good control of the blood sugar levels, proper fitting shoes to avoid foot injury and blisters or callouses. Regular foot exams are important.
The fact that diabetic foot amputations are on the rise is in part due to people not taking the treatment goals listed above seriously. I have seen so many people with diabetic foot ulcers that choose to avoid proper treatment and not want to spend the money on treating the foot ulcer because their insurance will pay for the surgical amputation. As we say in the Bahamas…”Where there are dollars you don’t often find sense.”
The rise in amputations is also due to a need for better wound healing options and wound healing technology being more widely promoted and implemented.
The combination of a collagen matrix placed in a diabetic foot ulcer with some type of growth factor is very important to stop an ulcer from leading to amputation. The growth factor added to the wound will stimulate better blood flow and improved immune response in the wound. Ultimately, increasing the rate of wound healing. There are commercially available growth factors that are bio equivalent to the platelet derived growth factors that can be harvested from the person with the ulcer. There are also roles for stem cell therapy in wound healing.
The use of collagen matrix and platelet growth factors or stem cells placed on diabetic foot ulcer are some important examples of the new field of medicine called “regenerative medicine”. If you are interested in regenerative medicine for diabetic foot ulcers, please begin your conversation here.