Diabetes is one of the leading causes of lower limb amputations throughout the world, with problems of the foot or calf being the most frequent reasons for hospitalisation. Diabetes has a number of complications associated with it including high blood pressure, high levels of sugar and very low insulin levels. All of these can cause nerve damage over a prolonged period of time. This nerve damage if left untreated is what leads to amputation.
Well, statistics show that diabetes is one of the leading causes of amputation of the lower limbs throughout the world. 50% of all amputations are said to occur in people who have diabetes. Most frequently, it is the foot which will suffer and statistics shows, amputations amongst diabetes sufferers are 15 times higher than those without diabetes.
However, this is not to say that these amputations have decreased equally across the globe. A recent study by Medicare beneficiaries has found that, in certain parts of the United States, including pockets of Texas and Arkansas, this number is at 7 in 1,000. In the UK, diabetics living in the South East are 5 times more likely to need amputations. However, it is unclear as to why these numbers do differ, or why they differ in specific areas as no correlation could be found.
Despite this, however, the Centre for Disease Control announced in January of this year that amputations among diabetes sufferers had dropped 65% over the past 10 years! Between 1996 and 2008, the rate of leg and foot amputations among adults suffering with diabetes had declined by 65%. To put this more simply, in 2008, 4 out of 1,000 adults suffering with diabetes had to undergo amputation, in comparison to 11 out of 1,000 sufferers in 1996.
So why do amputations occur? Well, as stated before, this is due to nerve damage. With nerves in the foot and leg damaged, feeling can be lost and cuts and scrapes can go unnoticed. Therefore, these can get infected quickly and be left untreated for a long period of time. Due to the poor circulation associated with diabetes, even once discovered, treatment can be difficult. The CDC warrants declining amputation rates to further information being provided about diabetes related amputations. This hopefully suggests that, over the next few years, though diabetes may rise, amputations will continue to fall.
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by Andre Bart