Amputee Coalition / National Limb Loss Information Center Fact Sheet
Preventing Further Limb Loss Among People with Diabetes
|by NLLIC Staff (Revised 2008)|
The CDC estimates that 23.6 million Americans currently have diabetes—7 percent of the U.S. population—up from 18.2 million in 2003.1 As this number rises, diabetes continues to be the leading cause of nontraumatic lower-extremity amputations (LEAs) in the United States.
Two factors influence amputations among persons with diabetes:
All people with diabetes, whether they have undergone amputation or not, should develop daily self-management practices. Early detection and treatment are the keys to preventing amputation.
Despite evidence that preventive foot-care programs can decrease the incidence of lower-extremity ulcers and amputations by 44 to 85 percent, there are still many people with diabetes, young and old, who have no access to preventive services for routine foot care or diabetes management. 6
Most ulcers that lead to amputation can be prevented through daily foot inspection and care, regular visits to your physician and podiatrist, foot-care education, wearing proper shoes and early recognition and treatment of any suspected trouble areas.
All individuals with diabetes should receive an annual foot examination to identify high-risk foot conditions. This examination should include assessment of protective sensation, foot structure and biomechanics, vascular status and skin integrity. All healthcare providers of people with diabetes should be able to conduct a simple screening exam of the neurological, vascular, dermatological and musculoskeletal systems. Modification of certain risk factors by patients and health professionals may reduce the risk for amputation and thus decrease the human and dollar costs that accompany limb loss in this prevalent chronic disease.
 CDC. “Hospital Discharge Rates for Nontraumatic Lower Extremity Amputation by Diabetes Status—U.S., 1997,” MMWR Weekly 50 (2001): 954-8, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5043a3.htm.
 Charles A. Patout, et al., “Effectiveness of a Comprehensive Diabetes Lower-Extremity Amputation Prevention Program in a Predominantly Low-Income African American Population,” Diabetes Care 23 (2003): 1339-42.
 Gayle E. Reiber, PhD, et al., “Lower Extremity Foot Ulcers and Amputations in Diabetes,” in Diabetes in America, eds. Maureen I. Harris, PhD, et al., 2 nd ed., 409-28 (Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health publication, 1995).