Why do people with diabetes lose limbs

Why do people with diabetes lose limbs?

Do people really lose their limbs due to diabetes? Yes, very often, in fact, more often than you may even want to imagine. Here is a statistic that may blow your mind:

In the United States alone, the statistics show that every 230 people with diabetes will suffer an amputation, while at least one person is diagnosed with diabetes every 17 seconds. It is also estimated that every 30 seconds, a leg is amputated throughout the world, and about 85% of such cases are due to diabetes.


Nerve injury and circulatory problems are common in diabetics. This may necessitate amputation of the foot or lower leg in some circumstances.

Amputation of a diabetic foot or limb is a common consequence of the disease. Diabetic neuropathy and peripheral artery disease, generally known as PAD, are two medical diseases linked to an increased risk of foot amputation.

Find out why people living with diabetes lose their limbs and related information in this article. Keep on reading.

Why do people with diabetes lose limbs?

Diabetes can cause Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) in some people. Your blood vessels narrow as a result of PAD, reducing blood flow to your legs and feet.

It may also induce peripheral neuropathy or nerve damage. This may help you avoid experiencing pain. Because diabetes reduces blood supply to the feet, people with diabetes are more likely to develop a wound or sore there.

You may not notice you have a wound or ulcer on your foot if you can’t feel discomfort. You could keep applying pressure to the damaged region, causing it to swell and get infected.

Reduced blood flow can make wound healing more difficult. It can also reduce your body’s ability to fight illness. Your wound may not heal as a result. Any existing infection may expand to your bone, causing tissue damage or death (gangrene).

Amputation may be required if the infection cannot be halted or the damage is irreversible. The toes, feet, and lower legs are the most common amputations in diabetics.

Although patients with diabetes are more likely to have amputations, most diabetes-related amputations can be avoided by wearing suitable footwear and taking adequate care of the feet.

What is Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) and how does it affect you?

PAD is a condition in which the arteries in the legs and feet get clogged with plaque. Patients with PAD will suffer a variety of symptoms, while others will just have a few.

Due to intermittent claudication in the arteries, one of the symptoms of Peripheral Artery Disease is severe leg cramping after walking or exercising. Leg pain usually goes away after a little rest.

Another symptom of Peripheral Artery Disease is gangrene, which can appear in parts of the foot where blood flow has been cut off due to artery constriction and occlusion. Patients who are having gangrene symptoms will notice dead tissue or gangrene on their toes.

People with PAD symptoms such as gangrene or dead tissue should seek medical attention as soon as possible because gangrene can lead to amputation of a limb if not addressed.

Is amputation common with diabetes?

Diabetes is a leading cause of limb amputation. Every 30 seconds, a person loses a limb due to diabetes-related complications, according to the American Diabetes Association.

In 2014, 108,000 persons experienced lower extremity amputations due to diabetes, according to the National Diabetes Statistics Report. This translates to five persons with diabetes for every 1,000 people.

According to a 2012 study, 4–10 percent of diabetics get foot ulcers. When foot ulcers do develop, the majority of people have a positive outlook:

  • Approximately 60–80% of foot ulcers will recover.
  • Within 6–18 months of the first evaluation, 10–15 percent will stay active and
  • 5–24% will result in limb amputation.

When is an amputation required?

Amputation is not required for everyone with diabetes. If a diabetic requires this operation, it is most frequently due to a wound or ulcer on the foot or lower leg that has not healed.

The majority of amputations are progressive, meaning that a doctor will begin by removing the least amount of tissue possible. They may prescribe further surgery to remove more tissue if the surgery wound does not heal or if the blood supply to the limb is not adequate.

Signs to look out for

People with diabetes should pay special care to their feet since they are more likely to have wounds that do not heal properly, requiring amputation.

The following are some of the indications and symptoms that a person should be aware of and discuss with their doctor:

  • a sore that does not heal quickly
  • skin discoloration
  • a strong odor from the foot
  • blisters
  • toenail fungus
  • Warts on the soles of the feet
  • open wounds
  • An ulcer that lasts longer than
  • athlete’s foot.
  • active bleeding
  • redness in one part of the foot
  • discomfort
  • active bleeding

If any of these symptoms appear, a person should consult a doctor to determine the best course of action. The treatment options will be determined by the severity of the symptoms and the underlying cause.

It is critical that a person examines their feet on a regular basis in order to detect potential concerns as soon as feasible. A doctor will attempt to fix the problems before they worsen.

Ways to avoid amputation if you have diabetes

If you are suffering from diabetes then there are some measures you need to take so you don’t lose your limbs due to a compulsory amputation.

Controlling your blood sugar is the greatest approach to avoiding amputation and other serious diabetes consequences. There are various options for doing so, including:

  • Avoiding sugary drinks like juice and soda
  • Keeping a healthy weight and blood pressure
  • Lowering stress
  • Exercising for at least 30 minutes per day
  • Regularly monitor your blood sugar levels
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions for insulin and other diabetic medications.
  • Consuming a nutritious diet consisting of lean meats, fruits and vegetables, fiber, and whole grains

Good foot care may help you prevent sores or ulcers from becoming problematic. By taking good care of your feet, you are less likely to lose your limbs to diabetes. Following are some foot care suggestions that may prevent you from losing your limbs:

  • Wear socks with no elastic bands that are thin, clean, and dry.
  • Check your entire foot on a daily basis. Look for redness, sores, bruises, blisters, and discoloration.
  • If you are unable to check your feet yourself, have someone else do it.
  • Using a feather or other light object, check your feet for sensation on a regular basis.
  • Check to discover if your feet can feel hot and cold temperatures on a regular basis.
  • To keep the blood circulating in your feet, wiggle your toes and move your ankles often during the day.
  • To obtain a better look at your feet, use a magnifying mirror.


Diabetes patients are more likely to have their lower limbs amputated. Amputation is most commonly caused by unhealed wounds or ulcers in patients with this illness.

Other variables that can raise the risk of foot-related issues, including amputation, include excessive blood sugar levels and smoking. People living with diabetes can lose their limbs if they don’t take good care of their feet and control their blood sugar levels.

Amputation can be avoided by taking care of their feet, regulating their blood sugar levels, and treating any problems with their feet as soon as possible.

Eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight can all help to avoid the need for amputation.


Michael Sarfo
Content Creator at Wapomu

Michael Sarfo is a graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon. He is a content creator for enochkabange.com and a writer for Wapomu

Dr. Ehoneah Obed is a registered pharmacist and a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana. He has a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and has experience working in a Tertiary hospital as well as various community pharmacies. He is also a software engineer interested in healthcare technologies.

His love for helping others motivates him to create content on an array of topics mostly relating to the health of people and also software engineering content.

He is knowledgeable in digital marketing, content marketing, and a host of other skills that make him versatile enough to uplift any team he joins.

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