Treat feet to daily exams
The feet of people with diabetes are at risk for serious complications, some even life-threatening. But proper care, including daily foot exams, could prevent these conditions, including amputation.
According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 60 percent of all nontraumatic lower-leg amputations worldwide are related to complications from the disease.
“We advise patients with diabetes or those at risk to do daily foot exams and schedule checkups by a podiatrist at least twice a year to prevent ulcers, corns and calluses, or more severe conditions” said Dr. Ramy Fahim, who treats diabetic patients at Ankle & Foot Care Centers offices in Warren, Niles and Andover.
A comprehensive foot-care treatment plan, including risk assessment, foot-care education, preventive therapy, treatment of foot problems, as well as referral to specialists, can reduce amputation rates by as much as 85 percent, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Podiatrists are medically trained to treat foot conditions that result from diabetes, such as neuropathy, infection and diabetic ulcers, which can lead to amputation if caught too late, according to ADA.
A diabetic ulcer is an open sore or wound that most commonly occurs on the bottom of the foot. Ulcers surface in about 15 percent of patients with diabetes. Of those who develop a foot ulcer, 6 percent will be hospitalized due to infection or other ulcer-related complication.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, more than 65,000 lower limbs are amputated annually due to complications from diabetes. And every 30 seconds, a limb is lost to diabetes worldwide.
“Oftentimes it’s hard for patients with diabetic neuropathy to feel an ulcer on the bottom of their feet, due to loss of feeling, so they should make it a habit to check daily, because once an ulcer is noticed, individuals should seek care from a podiatrist immediately,” said Dr. Fahim, who joined Ankle & Foot Care Centers in 2016.
“Timely treatment will reduce the risk of infection and amputation. Treatment can also improve function and quality of life and reduce the likelihood of expensive medical care in the future,” he said.
Neuropathy can also lead to complications, including foot ulcers. Podiatrists can treat diabetic neuropathy, in some patients, by decompressing the patient’s nerves to restore feeling and function.
Dr. Fahim’s practice includes foot and ankle surgery, diabetic foot care and treatment of heel and other lower-extremity ailments.
He completed a fellowship with Ankle & Foot Care Centers under Dr. Lawrence DiDomenico in 2012-2013. After working in Naples, Fla., for several years as a medical director and foot and ankle surgeon, he moved back to Ohio to join the practice.
Dr. Fahim earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto in 2004 and a doctor of podiatric medicine degree from the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in Cleveland in 2009.
He completed his three-year surgical residency at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in Cleveland in 2012, and is board-qualified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery.