PERTH AMBOY– Approximately five million Americans suffer with chronic wounds on their feet and lower legs that don’t respond to standard medical treatment. But, the best wound treatment is preventing wounds in the first place.
“When the actual wound is there, half the battle has been lost,” says Michael Sears, DPM, podiatrist and director of Raritan Bay Medical Center’s (RBMC) Central Jersey Wound Care Center. “Preventive care can be as simple as checking your feet every day for red marks, cuts or bruises.”
In recognition of National Foot Health Awareness Month, Dr. Sears suggests making the following five foot-care practices part of your routine:
• Inspect your feet daily. Look carefully for blisters and calluses as well as sores and cuts, especially between toes. “If it’s hard for you to examine your feet because of arthritis, obesity, or eyesight problems, put a mirror on the floor to help you get a good look or have someone else do a daily check,” says Dr. Sears.
• Take special care of your feet every day. Wash your feet with warm, not hot, water daily. Don’t soak your feet. Dry them well, especially between the toes. “Gently file corns and calluses with a pumice stone after you wash your feet,” says Dr. Sears. “Keep your toenails trimmed to the shape of your toe, filing the edges with an emery board.”
• Get the right shoes. Going barefoot increases the chance you’ll injure your feet, so always wear slippers or shoes and socks. Make sure your shoes fit well. “A podiatrist can fit you with shoe inserts, called orthotics, that provide extra support for your feet and legs,” says Dr. Sears. “Your health insurance may cover the price of special shoes to cradle feet that have changed shape.”
• Get foot exams. “At the very least, everyone with type 2 diabetes should have an initial foot exam with a podiatrist to evaluate their nerves, circulation and anything in their foot structure that could predispose them to problems down the line,” says Dr. Sears. “This includes bunions, corns and hammertoes.” Ask your doctor to look at your feet at every diabetes checkup.
• Exercise—but gently. Diet and exercise are the cornerstones of diabetes care—for keeping blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in check. If you’re worried about foot injuries, talk to your doctor about the right exercise for you. Swimming, biking, yoga, and tai chi are among the exercises that are easy on your feet.
Diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, venous disease, pressure ulcers, traumatic injury and any condition that compromises circulation can impair the body’s natural healing process and contribute to wound development. Some medications can also interfere with the healing process. These conditions may cause wounds to be unresponsive to standard treatments; causing pain, infection, lost function and even the need for amputation.
For those who have a stubborn wound that won’t heal, preventing them from being as active as they would like, it may be time from them to visit RBMC’s Central Jersey Wound Care Center. The Center’s clinical staff develops individualized treatment plans for each patient based on the types and locations of their wounds. Patients with chronic wounds may qualify for hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a treatment that delivers pressurized oxygen to the wound site and speeds up the healing process.
For more information about services or to make an appointment, call 1-888-HEALING or visit http://www.rbmc.org/medical-services/central-jersey-wound-care-center.
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