Type 2 Diabetes – Is Cathodal Direct Current Stimulation A New Treatment for Diabetic Foot Ulcers?

Diabetic foot ulcers occur when part of the skin covering an area of the foot dies. This is caused by damaged blood vessels and indirectly by nerve damage…

  • blood vessels throughout the body suffer when blood sugar levels are abnormally high.
  • nerves are damaged when blood vessels are unable to supply them with enough oxygen and nutrients. Damaged nerves are called diabetic neuropathy, in which there is numbness and tingling in a stocking-glove distribution. Feet are particularly susceptible, but the condition is also seen in the hands, arms, and legs. Diabetic neuropathy can lead to wounds because often people with diabetes do not feel sharp objects under their feet.

Healing is slower than in non-diabetics. Some tissue may die from lack of oxygen and nutrients from the blood. Infections can then set in and when the infection progress through to the bone, it is called osteomyelitis which must be treated with intravenous antibiotics and can result in the need for amputation.

In March of 2017, the journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice reported on a new technique for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers involving dead tissue. Investigators at the Hamadan University of Medical Sciences and several other research facilities in Tehran, Iran, tried electrical stimulation to help diabetic foot ulcers to heal. The technique, known as cathodal direct current, stimulates the release of molecules that encourage new blood vessel growth.

Thirty people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetics and who had foot ulcers were assigned to either an electrical stimulation group or a non-treatment group. By the end of twelve weeks, healing molecules were measured at almost ten times the amount seen in the non-treatment group.

Among the most common medical problems experienced by people with Type 2 diabetes are problems related to their feet…

  • when you walk around or when you exercise, do so in comfortable shoes. Shoes with rubber soles are often recommended over leather soles as the rubber helps absorb shock.
  • wash and carefully dry your feet every day. If you notice a cut or scratch on your foot, apply a mild antiseptic and cover the area with a dry sterile bandage. If the area does not heal within a day or two, call your doctor.
  • file your toenails straight across so they are even with the skin on the edge of your toes. If you suffer an ingrown toenail or other foot problems, see a podiatrist as ingrown toenails can become infected and cause serious problems.
  • numbness, shooting pains and a pins-and-needles type of pain in your feet are signs of nerve damage. When Type 2 diabetics begin to feel numbness and tingling, medication can be given to allow red blood cells (carriers of oxygen) to pass through the blood vessels more quickly.
  • people with Type 2 diabetes also need to walk to encourage circulation. When pain from walking becomes too much to tolerate, take a break until the pain subsides and then walk some more.

Controlling your blood sugar is the best preventative measure of all because of the serious complications of Type 2 diabetes linked to high blood sugar. Maintaining your blood sugar within your normal range also accelerates the rate at which your body heals.

Foot ulcers require immediate attention and can be difficult to heal so do not hesitate to contact your health care professional who will be able to help you.