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FOR RELEASE: November 12, 2002
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
405/271-5601

Foot Care Tips for Diabetics Can Reduce Risk of Amputations

During November, Diabetes Awareness Month, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has joined with the American Podiatric Medical Association to launch "It’s What You Don’t Feel That Can Hurt You," a foot care awareness campaign to inform consumers about how to prevent and treat diabetes-related complications of the feet.

Diabetes accounts for approximately half of all non-traumatic amputations performed in the United States each year. There are more than 1,000 diabetes-related amputations performed in Oklahoma each year with hospital charges alone totaling nearly $30 million.

Many amputations are the result of nerve disease, a serious problem for people with diabetes. Because nerve disease often leads to lost sensation in the feet, people with diabetes feel no pain when they injure a foot or toe. As a result, a minor injury can become infected and, without proper treatment, can lead to amputation.

People with diabetes can reduce their risk of amputation by following a few simple guidelines:

  • Check your bare feet every day for cuts, sores, bumps and red spots.
  • Have your doctor check your bare feet at every visit.
  • Wash your feet in warm -- not hot -- water every day.
  • Do not soak your feet. Remember to dry between your toes.
  • Cut your toenails straight across. Use an emery board to smooth sharp edges that could cut the next toe.

"Health care providers nationwide can use the message from this campaign to help people with diabetes lead healthy, active lives and reduce their chances of serious foot-related complications, such as amputation," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Leslie Beitsch.

"Foot ulcers and other foot problems that can lead to amputation are a major cause of serious infection, death and disability for our aging population suffering from diabetes and nerve disease. Educating the public about preventative diabetic foot care is one way we can help reduce the incidence of lower extremity amputations in Oklahoma," Beitsch said.

For more information about diabetes and foot care, contact your health care provider; the OSDH Diabetes Control and Prevention Program at 888-669-5934; your county health department; or the American Diabetes Association, Eastern Oklahoma Regional Office at 1-800-259-6552; Western Oklahoma Regional Office at 1-800-259-6551; or the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation at 1-800-JDF-CURE.

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