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Diabetes-related Foot Amputations Decline in the US

Jul 20, 2013 08:20 AM EDT

(Photo : REUTERS/Lisi Niesner)

Fewer people in the U.S. are undergoing diabetes-associated limb amputations, even though the rates of diabetes are increasing, according to a new study.

Diabetes can affect how people walk and can lead to serious complications that require amputating limbs. In 2008 alone, about 70,000 people underwent a limb amputation, according to data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Limb amputations caused by diabetes account for 60 percent of all amputations in the U.S., including those resulting from accidents.

In the U.S., the number of people being diagnosed with diabetes has tripled from 5.6 million in 1980 to 26.9 million in 2010. According to CDC by 2050, one in three U.S. adults will have diabetes.

In the present study, researchers looked at data from 2000 to 2010 Medicare claims of toe, feet and leg amputations, reported Healthday.

The scientists found that the rate of upper and lower leg amputations due to diabetes declined by about 29 percent in the last decade. The results of the study surprised the researchers.

"The trend was so clear and more obvious than I thought it would be," said senior author Dr. Phinit Phisitkul, an assistant clinical professor at the University of Iowa department of orthopedics and rehabilitation, according to HealthDay.

The study found that only partial toe amputation, which has very low impact on quality of life, increased by 24 percent. Also, orthopedic treatments for foot and ankle increased by as much as 143 percent during the study period, researchers found.

Although, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons for the decline in foot amputations, researchers believe that better foot-care is helping people manage diabetes-related complications better. "We do know that better foot and ankle treatment is a part of it though," Phisitkul told HealthDay.

The present study is published in the journal called Foot & Ankle International.

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