Limb Loss

3 tips for you to keep your feet and legs for life.

Joy Pape By Joy Pape, RN, BSN, CDE, WOCN, CFCN

I just read a news report from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) that said, "Many diabetic foot amputations are preventable." I was not surprised. If you've been reading my articles or have had diabetes education of any kind then you are most likely not surprised either.

For the most part, limb loss is preventable. Just because you have diabetes doesn't mean you have to lose your feet and legs. Even if your mother, father, or other close family member has had a limb amputated, that does not increase your risk for amputation.

Here's what you can do to keep your limbs:

1. Know and manage your ABC's of diabetes.

  • A = A1C. Keep your A1C less than 7%
  • B = Blood Pressure (B/P). Keep your B/P below 130/80 mmHg
  • C = Cholesterol (lipids). Keep your lipids in these ranges:
    • Total Cholesterol–less than 200mg/dl
    • Triglycerides–less than 150mg/dl
    • HDL–men more than 40mg/dl, women more than 50mg/dl
    • LDL-less than 100mg/dl, if you have heart disease, less than 70

2. Look at your feet daily. The more familiar you are with how your feet look, the better you will be at detecting a change. If you notice any redness, cuts, sores, or other problems, get help right away. Many people wait too long. The earlier you get treatment, the easier it will be for you to heal. If you can't see your feet, ask a loved one to look for you or consider buying a big mirror that you can position in order to see your feet. There are also mirrors on rods specially made to facilitate the inspection of your feet.

3. Keep your shoes and socks on. Always wear shoes and socks when you are awake and walking around. This includes when you are at home. All it takes is something falling on your foot or for you to step on something to start a sore that can lead to an amputation. Make sure your shoes fit and that they are protective. Socks decrease the friction caused by your shoes rubbing against your bare foot, and that can lead to a sore. Try not to wear socks without shoes because. Alone, there is no protection for your feet if you step on something and socks also tend to be slippery.

Remember to thoroughly inspect your footwear before and after wear. Shake out both your shoes and socks to make sure there isn't anything in them – other than your feet. And when you take your shoes and socks off, look at and in them to be sure there isn't blood, a telltale sign of a sore. If there is blood, identify where it came from, and if there is a sore, get help right away.

There's always so much more to share with you about how you can keep your feet and legs. Knowing and doing these simple things will teach you that you too can prevent limb loss.


Read Joy's bio here.

Read more of Joy Pape's columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

Last Modified Date: July 08, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
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