More than five million people in the United States are at risk for diabetes-related foot problems. In fact, people with diabetes spend more time in the hospital for treatment of foot problems than for any other reason.
Mount Nittany Health's diabetes foot clinic provides full-risk evaluation, as well as prevention and treatment of ulcers, Charcot fractures and other foot complications related to diabetes. Through education, prevention and treatment services for diabetes-related foot complications, the diabetes foot clinic ensures that patients' lives are not limited by foot problems.
Nearly 50 percent of people with diabetes have some nerve damage (neuropathy) and may lose the ability to feel pain, heat or cold and even the sense of touch in their feet. This is a loss of "protective sensation" and is the primary cause of diabetes-related foot problems.
In the United States, more than half of the amputations not caused by accident or injury occur in people with diabetes. The good news is that many foot problems, including amputations, are entirely preventable with proper treatment, education and patient resources.
A board-certified endocrinologist and physical therapists collaborate with the staff at the Mount Nittany Center for Wound Care to provide a wide range of treatment options. The diabetes foot clinic is supported by Mount Nittany Health’s orthotics department, which provides specialized footwear and custom devices to protect feet. Referrals to vascular and foot surgeons are also provided when appropriate.
With a new patient, diabetes foot clinic staff will first check the status of the nerves and circulation in a patient's legs and feet to determine the condition. Although the underlying problem — nerve damage in the feet — cannot be cured, it can be managed.
One of the techniques used at our clinic is total contact casting, which is the most-effective method known for healing neuropathic wounds. For patients with good circulation, foot ulcers can be healed in less than six weeks, using a total contact cast.
We are also able to map pressure underneath the feet as a patient walks. This information is used to design the best footwear solution. The use of this appropriate footwear helps to prevent foot problems from recurring.
The clinic provides appropriate treatment for any current problems, fits the patient with proper footwear and offers a plan for long-term foot care. After acute foot problems have been resolved, patients return to their regular physicians for ongoing care, with return visits to the clinic recommended at least annually.