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Diabetic Foot Exam: What Is It & Why Should I Get One?
By: Stephanie Thompson, MNSc, APRN, FNP-BC
Baptist Health Family Clinic-Heber Springs East
The American Diabetes Association estimates that the total economic cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2012 was approximately $245 billion. Every year, 1.4 million Americans are newly diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetic foot complications can be costly, with the average amputation costing over $70,000. Approximately 73,000 Americans with diabetes required an amputation in 2013 related to diabetic complications.
Asking your health care provider to complete a yearly foot exam is vital in detecting foot complication such as poor circulation, nerve damage skin changes, and deformities. Patients should mention any problems they have noticed with their feet. An exam can reveal abnormalities and allow a treatment plan to be developed.
A monofilament is a very thin, flexible thread that is used to determine if a patient can sense pressure in different areas of the foot. A tuning fork is used to determine if a patient can sense vibration in the foot and toes. Studies have shown that the monofilament exam can detect peripheral neuropathy in patients with diabetes.
To avoid foot complications related to diabetes, it is recommended to maintain a controlled blood sugar, quit smoking, avoid walking barefoot, wash and check your feet daily, and report any changes to your health care provider. Ask your primary care provider for a diabetic foot exam at your next visit.