Healing Diabetic Wounds
Foot infections and gangrene are common complications in people with diabetes. They may even end in the loss of a toe, foot, or leg!
Diabetes mellitus represents several diseases in which high blood glucose levels over time can damage the nerves, kidneys, eyes, and blood vessels. Uncontrolled diabetes leads to organ damage and decreases the body’s ability to fight infection.
Foot infections now account for the largest number of diabetes-related hospital bed-days and are the most common proximate, non-traumatic cause of amputations. Diabetic foot infections require careful attention and coordinated management, preferably by a multidisciplinary foot-care team.
What is Diabetic Foot?
The occurrence of wounds in the foot of a diabetic person with the following symptoms: gangrene, swelling, severe pain, burning sensation, foul-smelling discharge from the wounds, non-healing despite proper attention, etc., classifies the foot wound as “diabetic foot”. If not attended to promptly, this can lead to limb loss and can be fatal as well.
What causes this condition?
Diabetic foot is usually caused by a combination of three factors:
- Ischemia or reduced blood supply at the affected tissue.
- Diabetic peripheral neuropathy, the loss of sensation or numbness in the foot area where repeated skin injury goes unnoticed by the patient.
- Skin changes that are caused by excess sugar in the tissues increasing the chances of infection.
Approximately 8% of diabetic patients have a foot ulcer and 1.8% undergo an amputation.
How is it treated?
Diabetic foot management includes drainage of pus, cleaning of wound with local amputation (surgical removal of the affected area) of dead parts, and appropriate antibiotics. However, there are limitations to the treatments if the wound becomes gangrenous and life-threatening infections set in.
Ayurveda contains a detailed description of ulcers and their causes, along with treatments based on the stage of the wound and presenting symptoms. Internal medications, external treatments, surgical treatments, panchakarma treatments, various dietary and lifestyle advice of Ayurveda help the patient with the diabetic foot to recover completely without necessitating amputations.
But, why delay? Prevention is better than cure! Although there are options to treat diabetic wounds, Ayurveda also offers ways to control diabetes itself.
This article was published in August 2019, Volume 15, Issue-4 of Heritage Amruth magazine, the magazine on Natural Healthcare brought out by Medplan Conservatory Society (MCS), the publication unit of FRLHT-TDU, Bangalore.