Those with diabetes are approximately 15 times more likely to undergo amputation. Diabetes is the leading non-traumatic cause of amputation. Factors that can predispose a person to ulceration serious enough to lead to amputation can include neuropathy (a nerve disorder commonly associated with diabetes), circulation issues, bone weakening (‘Charcot foot’) and foot ulcers themselves.

Foot ulcers

A high proportion of people with diabetes develop a foot ulcer at some point. Foot ulcers can affect people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. They are essentially a patch of broken down skin usually on the lower leg or feet. When blood sugar levels are high or fluctuate regularly this can damage nerves and the circulation. Wounds that would normally heal may not properly repair due to a poor blood supply, so even a mild injury can lead to a foot ulcer. People with diabetes may also have reduced nerve functioning due to peripheral diabetic neuropathy meaning that the messages from the feet to the brain about pain aren’t as strong as they should be. This can mean that an injury may go unnoticed and become infected. Foot ulcers can start from a minor injury such as may be caused by treading on something, wearing tight shoes, cuts, blisters and bruises. When even a small wound does not heal properly this can become infected and a foot ulcer can develop.

Risk Factors

These can include neuropathy, poor circulation, poor diabetes control, tight or poor fitting footwear and walking barefoot.

Spotting the symptoms

Many diabetes related amputations are avoidable with proper foot care and treatable if the first signs are spotted early and acted upon quickly. For this reason the national guidelines are strict on what must be done. If the ulcer is limb threatening you should be referred for immediate assessment and treatment by a multidisciplinary foot clinic. All other active ulcers should be referred to the multidisciplinary foot clinic within 1 working day to be seen within 1 further working day. However, they can go unrecognised and untreated by clinicians or referrals are made to podiatrists only and not the specialist clinic meaning that the foot or leg cannot be saved. If you think there may have been delays in your case or that of a loved one, speak to us and we’ll help.

How we can help

Our team of experienced lawyers specialise in amputation claims. They can be complex and challenging. We have successfully pursued claims for families who have been through similar experiences so if you or a family member have suffered diabetes related amputation, we will help you get the answers and the outcome you need.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Amputations are a relatively common complication of diabetes, particularly in those with poorly controlled blood sugar levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.5% of people with diabetes will undergo an amputation of a lower extremity (such as a foot or leg) each year.

It’s important to note, however, that proper management of diabetes can significantly reduce the risk of amputations. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider, careful monitoring of blood sugar levels, and adherence to a healthy lifestyle (including a balanced diet and regular exercise) are all important steps in preventing diabetic complications like amputations.

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