A wound or ulcer that fails to respond to treatment after four weeks or has not healed entirely in two months is considered to be a chronic wound. Chronic, non-healing wounds can have serious health consequences and may adversely affect your quality of life.
Often complicated by underlying conditions, what seems like a simple wound on your foot or lower leg can turn into a significant problem. There are many factors that can cause a wound to become chronic enough to lead to amputation, however the majority of lower limb amputations are due to foot ulcers that are a result of complications from diabetes, including:
- Poor circulation
- Charcot foot
If you are suffering from neuropathy, you may be unable to feel, or have reduced feeling in your feet. An injury or repetitive trauma like a blister from a tight shoe can go unnoticed and cause a sore or ulcer to form.
Also, if you have diabetes, you have an increased risk of developing peripheral arterial disease, or a narrowing of your arteries in various parts of your body, especially your legs. This in turn may cause poor blood flow to your feet. Skin with reduced blood flow does not heal as well as normal skin and is more likely to get damaged. Therefore, if you develop a sore, it may take longer to heal or turn into an ulcer.
Ulcers develop in up to 25% of those with diabetes over their lifetime. The longer an ulcer remains open and unhealed, the more likely it is to become infected. Foot ulcers complicated by infection are often what leads to an amputation.