Having a foot or lower leg amputation is a risk involved in several different environmental situations and medical conditions. For instance, those who race in Alaska may find that they are exposed to significant freezing temperatures which can create frostbite in the extremities, especially the hands and feet. There are times when this necessitates the amputation of a toe or if what. But the most likely reason why an individual will have a foot amputation is either from a traumatic accidents, such as a car accident or an accident involving a saw, or as the result of peripheral vascular disease or diabetic neuropathy.
Individuals who must be considered for a foot amputation should be fully evaluated by a surgeon in order to determine whether or not the amputation is absolutely necessary, and if so how far it must be done. The surgeon will determine the extent of the amputation based on the viability of vascular and arterial flow to healthy tissue. In other words, if there is healthy arterial flow to tissue it is not necessary to remove it.
Unfortunately, too frequently surgical amputation is the only option available for individuals who suffer from diabetes and are managing nonviable toes or feet. Diabetes is a growing problem worldwide. At this point the American diabetic Association estimates that 221 million people will be affected by the year 2010. Individuals with diabetes can suffer from blindness, kidney complications and peripheral arterial disease as a result of poor glucose control. The peripheral arterial disease is a significant risk factor for foot disease which can lead to lower extremity wounds and resulting amputation.
The other category of individuals who is at high risk for an amputation are people who operate heavy equipment and machinery, motorcycle drivers and those who use power equipment such as electric saws and snowblowers. In each of these situations the individual is at greater risk for a traumatic foot amputation which means that foot is removed quickly in a traumatic situation.
The long-term outcome for individuals who suffer from a foot amputation, whether traumatic or as a result of peripheral disease, has improved as a result of advances in both early emergency treatment, critical care management and surgical techniques. Individuals will undergo rehabilitation and prosthetics sitting in order to help them regain their ability to perform daily living tasks without assistance.
Unfortunately, those who suffer from peripheral vascular disease may find the use of a prosthetic foot to the an increased danger for another open sore, gangrene and resulting amputation. In these cases the individual must be consistent in their daily evaluation of their feet, reporting all problems to their primary care physician immediately.
In some cases it isn’t medically sound to prescribe a prosthesis and the individual will learn to walk with crutches for short distance and may be confined to a wheelchair for long distances.
But in any case, because of the advancements in medical care, surgical technique and rehabilitation more and more individuals are able to return to their previous level of activity.
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