by: David Armstrong
What if someone told you that there’s a disease you could catch where you couldn’t feel any symptoms coming on? And that this occurs every 1.2 seconds somewhere in the world?
What if you were stricken with this disease then there would be a 5% chance you’d lose a limb within a year and a 50-70% chance you’d be dead in five years? What if you were told that this problem cost more than the five most expensive cancers in the U.S. but far less than one one-thousandth of comparative federal and private funding is spent on attacking it?
Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce you to the humble diabetic foot ulcer. While the problem may strike at the end of the body, far away from the heart or the brain, its effects are far-reaching.
I have spent my career treating and researching the lower extremity complications of diabetes. Based on my research and experience, I believe our society could eliminate immeasurable suffering if we collectively paid more attention to this problem.
OK, I know this isn’t a sexy topic. Foot wounds are ugly. Many people who have them are poor. But bear with me. They are a reality for far too many Americans and people across the globe. The ages of these patients are “bimodal,” in that there is one population of people who are old and getting older. Conversely, with more and more people being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes earlier, there is a population that is younger than ever being afflicted with wounds, infections and amputation. Ignoring the problem is an example of ignoring the needs of a silent and vulnerable population.