With every step you take, you put pressure on certain areas of your feet. If you notice pain, sores or wounds developing on your feet, it’s time to see a podiatrist. One of the most common solutions for this problem is offloading.
What Is Offloading?
Offloading is a medical term for relieving pressure on a part of the body. In podiatry, offloading refers to reducing pressure to areas of the foot to reduce pain and “trauma” to those areas. Offloading is commonly used to discuss diabetic foot care, as some people with this medical condition also have problems with diabetic foot ulcers (DFU).
Diabetic Foot Ulcers
It’s estimated that about 15 percent of patients who are diagnosed with diabetes develop diabetic foot ulcers. These are wounds (sometimes painless) that develop over time due to a combination of applying too much pressure to certain areas of the foot when walking and complications related to high blood glucose levels. It’s also exasperated by wearing poorly made shoes. Diabetic foot ulcers can become infected and lead to hospital stays when they go untreated. They must be thoroughly cleaned, debrided and treated to eliminate the infection.
Offloading is a set of techniques designed to help patients who have problems with foot ulcers and similar sores because of pressure to certain parts of the foot. Common offloading solutions include:
- Wearing specially designed foot casts.
- Prescribing orthotic walkers to assist with walking.
- Designing custom orthotic shoes that will better distribute pressure throughout the foot.
- Physical therapy to improve the way the patient walks.
Protecting Your Feet
In addition to exploring offloading solutions with your podiatrist, you can also take actions at home to relieve or prevent the symptoms of diabetic foot ulcers:
- Wear comfortable shoes, preferably made of leather, that don’t put too much pressure on one area of the foot, such as the arch or the toes. Flip-flops are a no-no.
- Clean and bandage your feet and the wound every day.
- Keep your blood sugar levels in balance to aid in the healing process.
It’s important that you keep an open line with your podiatrist in case a foot ulcer or similar wound becomes infected. Offloading is the best solution to ensure that these sores heal and are prevented from developing in the future.