By: Miranda Schwartz
Neuropathy is one of the most common complications of diabetes. Unless something is done to stop the trend, 50 percent of people with diabetes are predicted to develop neuropathy, or nerve damage, in their legs. Because there is a loss of protective sensation which signals pain, injuries can occur as a result. These neuropathy-related injuries can cause ulcers that lead to amputations for an estimated 54,000 patients every year in the United States.
Patients should be educated about neuropathy when they are diagnosed with diabetes and be tested for nerve damage one to four times a year to prevent amputation, according to George Deitrick, MD, vice president of medical affairs for Curative Health Services.
Curative Health Services manages a national network of more than 120 Wound Care Centers that treat diabetes-related complications. The centers provide routine neuropathy testing and patient education to prevent non-healing wounds and amputations related to diabetes. They treat wounds that haven’t improved within four weeks or haven’t totally healed within eight weeks. The new Rancocas Hospital Wound Center just opened in Willingboro, NJ.
According to Curative Health Services, the wound care centers track data on more than 75,000 patients, so its network has seen almost every type of wound.
The ADA estimates that diabetes-related amputation could be reduced by 50 percent if patients were routinely tested for neuropathy, fitted with appropriate footwear and educated to prevent injury or complications.
“Patients’ awareness of the condition and active participation in their own care is as important with neuropathy as it is in their self-management of diabetes as a whole,” says Deitrick .