Diabetic foot ulcers can be one of the many hurdles that come from having diabetes. Although, in recent years a pioneering new form of treatment has emerged. This advanced therapeutic practice is known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and has been found to effectively treat diabetic foot ulcers.
How Does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Help to Treat Diabetic Foot Ulcers?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is purported to improve the healing process for diabetic foot wounds by increasing blood oxygen levels in the area around the wound. This is done via state-of-the-art hyperbaric chambers that supply users with higher levels of oxygen they would otherwise get through natural means.
“When you breathe in these high concentrations of oxygen under hyperbaric conditions, over time, it will stimulate your body to grow new blood vessels,” says Kelly Johnson-Arbor, MD, medical director of hyperbaric medicine at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC.
A trial that was published on the Diabetes Care journal also found that over half of patients treated with hyperbaric oxygen had complete healing of their diabetic foot ulcer, compared to the 29% of those that received placebo treatment.
The example above is some of the many that suggest HBOT can improve the healing of foot wounds in people with diabetes. If you suffer from a chronic diabetic foot ulcer and are looking to seek treatment with the highly reputable Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Centre in Mayfair, London, contact us now on 020 3733 4093 or email us at [email protected]
If you are still unsure about the definition and treatment of diabetic foot ulcers, we’ve put together some helpful information below.
What are Diabetic Foot Ulcers?
A diabetic foot ulcer is a common complication that comes with diabetes that results in sores on the feet. The sores tend to be on the surface of the skin exposing the layers underneath, but they can also be deep enough to expose tendons or bones.
If a diabetic foot wound is not treated right away, it can develop into:
- An abscess
- A spreading infection of the skin and underlying fat
- A bone infection
What Causes Diabetic Foot Ulcers?
Diabetic foot ulcers are almost always caused by constant pressure of the blisters, wounds or calluses.
Due to poor blood circulation, people with diabetes may experience nerve damage in the lower limbs and feet. Nerve numbness reduces sensitivity, which can result in painless wounds that, if not discovered early, can cause ulcers.
What Are the Symptoms of Diabetic Foot Ulcers?
The symptoms of diabetic foot ulcers are not always obvious. Especially if the nerves in the foot are damaged and the ulcer is located on a less obvious part of the foot, where you can’t easily see it.
One of the first symptoms of a foot ulcer is drainage from your wound that might stain your socks or leak out in your shoe. Unusual swelling, irritation, redness, and foul-smelling odours are also common early signs of a foot ulcer. In more advanced stages of foot ulcers, you may also develop a fever.
How to Treat Diabetic Foot Ulcers?
Patients with diabetic foot ulcers are treated with standard wound care. Below are some typical steps your doctor may take to heal your foot ulcer:
- Wound Assessment
The doctor will assess the severity of your condition and create a treatment plan.
Your medical team will look at the foot ulcer regularly until it’s healed. Wound healing assessment is an ongoing process, making adjustments to the treatment plan as necessary.
In HBOT, 100% of oxygen is administered to the patient under high pressure. The aim of the treatment is to increase the supply of oxygen to the tissue and help the wound to heal better as a result.
- Cleansing and Debridement
The ulcer on the foot is cleaned and any dead tissue is removed. Removing the dead tissue sparks the body’s natural healing mechanism. A cream that promotes healing may be applied when the wound is dressed. You may be asked to change the dressing regularly.
To help increase your chances of healing, your doctor will find a way to keep pressure off the foot ulcer. Continued pressure on the sore will only worsen it. A doctor will most likely ask you to wear a cast or boot that keeps weight off the injured site while the wound heals.
Diabetic ulcers typically heal slowly. If your ulcer fails to heal properly, your doctor may recommend more advanced therapies such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The aim of this treatment is to increase the effectiveness and speed of the healing process by supplying higher concentrations of oxygen to the affected tissues.
- Löndahl, MD, M., Katzman, MD, PHD, P., Nilsson, MD, A. and Hammarlund, MD, PHD, C. (2010). Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Facilitates Healing of Chronic Foot Ulcers in Patients With Diabetes. [online] Diabetes Care. Available at: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/33/5/998.long
- Callahan, A. and Church, MD, K. (2017). Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Wounds: What Is It and Does It Work?. [online] EverydayHealth.com. Available at: https://www.everydayhealth.com/type-2-diabetes/treatment/can-hyperbaric-wound-care-treat-diabetic-foot-ulcers/ [Accessed 31 Jan. 2019].
- Lipsky, B. and Berendt, A. (2010). Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Diabetic Foot Wounds. [online] Diabetes Care. Available at: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/33/5/1143
- Hwang, D., Lee, K., Park, M., Choi, S., Park, J., Cho, J., Park, K. and Woo, S. (2017). Association between diabetic foot ulcer and diabetic retinopathy. [online] PubMed Central® (PMC). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5384753/
- PubMed Central® (PMC). (2018). Type 2 diabetes: Does hyperbaric oxygen therapy help in the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers?. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK481483/
- Drugs. (2018). Foot Ulcers Guide: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options. [online] Available at: https://www.drugs.com/health-guide/foot-ulcers.html
- Healthline. (2018). Diabetic Foot Pain and Ulcers: Causes and Treatments. [online] Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetic-foot-pain-and-ulcers-causes-treatments#treatment
- Advanced Tissue. (2018). How to Treat Common Diabetic Foot Ulcer Symptoms. [online] Available at: https://advancedtissue.com/2016/12/how-to-treat-common-diabetic-foot-ulcer-symptoms/
- Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. (2018). Diabetic Foot Ulcers: Why You Should Never Ignore Them. [online] Available at: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/diabetic-foot-ulcers-why-you-should-never-ignore-them/
Please note that although HBOT has been used for many years as a therapeutic intervention for a variety of indications, the evidence for its use remains uncertain which means that it is not proven by “randomized prospective controlled clinical experiment or trial” which is considered to be the strongest form of scientific evidence by conventional medical standards.
It is always recommended that clients visit their GP or Consultant if there is any medical problem before commencing HBOT. Our HBOT expert, Robert Pender regularly consults GPs and medical consultants or relevant members (MDs) of International Hyperbaric Medical Association when required whilst client’s confidentiality will be respected and protected throughout.
In accordance with UK and EU legislation, we confirm that there is no intention implied or otherwise that HBOT is given so with the intention of it being a cure, diagnosis or as a preventative for any disease. Any references, studies or testimonials on this website do not imply that similar results will occur when the same therapy is experienced by another.