The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Diabetic Foot Ulcer Amputations Could Be Reduced By 50%, Studies Say

Posted by on Wednesday, July 17th, 2013


Did you know… every 30 seconds someone in the world has a foot amputation due to diabetes complications? Even here in the United States, where we have some of the best health care in the world, there are over 100,000 diabetes amputations each year. In places like Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma, 7 or 8 out of every 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries will have a diabetes-related amputation in 2013. These numbers are unacceptable, especially considering that diabetic foot ulcers are very treatable if caught early and very preventable. A new study says that amputation rates can be cut in half with a few simple measures.

Amputation numbers can be cut by 50% with the use of shoe inserts, podiatry services, regular checkups and other simple interventions, according to a new study by researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg in Sweden. The study looked at 114 Swedish patients — average age of 58, living 12 or more years with diabetes — who had a risk of developing ulcers.

Diabetic Shoe Inserts

One of their focuses was “protecting the foot from overloading the foot sole” to minimize the risk of ulcers. Only 0.9% of the participants who wore shoe insoles developed foot ulcers, compared to 3-8% found in similar diabetic populations. Doctoral student Ulla Tang said, “We found that good shoes and inserts can reduce pressure on the foot by 50% compared with going barefoot.” Here at our NYC Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine we specialize in diabetic foot issues and can help you select the right custom insole for your situation.

Podiatry Services

The study revealed that only 67% of diabetic patients had been offered podiatry services, despite the fact that 83% had calluses. Podiatrists can examine the feet regularly to look for potential problems or entry-points for infection. Something as innocuous as a blister or an ingrown toenail can become a big problem for diabetics. Another large-scale study coauthored by Dr. James Wrobel DPM looked at 29,000 diabetic patients and discovered that individuals who visited at least one podiatrist had a 15% lower risk of ulceration and 17% lower risk of hospitalization than those who did not.

Diabetics Need A Coordinated Team

Research from the Bemidji Area Indian Health Service Diabetes Programme in Minnesota found that screening examinations, self-care foot education, protective footwear and routine podiatry care reduced lower-extremity amputations by 25 to 50%. In settings that included team coordination, patient-tracking systems, comprehensive foot care guidelines and outreach programs, amputations were reduced by 50 to 75%. Given all this research, isn’t it time you found a podiatrist experienced in diabetes care?


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.