Foot and Ankle Orthopaedic Surgeons Can Fill the Gap in Barriers to Care for Diabetic Patients

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Survey results show that foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons are underutilized in diabetic foot care

Rosemont, Ill., Feb. 19, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons can help fill the gap in barriers to access to diabetic foot care, according to survey results and presentations at the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society’s (AOFAS) Winter Meeting last month in Tampa, Florida.

AOFAS President Michael S. Aronow, MD, from Orthopedic Associates of Hartford in Connecticut, presented the results of a survey of US-based foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons in the AOFAS membership about the care they provide for diabetic patients. The survey results discredited misconceptions that some healthcare professionals and the public may have that orthopaedic surgeons are unable or unwilling to treat diabetic foot diseases.

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“Foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons have the expertise and training to treat diabetic foot disease,” Dr. Aronow said. “My colleagues complete four years of medical school, five years of orthopaedic surgery residency, and a fellowship year of specialized training in the non-operative and surgical management of patients with foot and ankle disorders.”

The need for quality diabetic foot care is growing as more than 11 percent of the United States population live with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes can cause serious foot problems including foot ulcers, infections, and sometimes even limb amputations. In 2017, the total direct cost for diabetes was $237 million, with a third of that directly attributable to diabetic foot disease.

Christopher W. Reb, DO, from the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System in Gainesville, Florida, discussed in his presentation how foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons can help manage foot deformities and loss of motion that cause diabetic foot ulcers as well as perform surgery when necessary.

Among patients with a diabetic foot ulcer, the risk of some of form of amputation is 20 percent, and this number has trended upward over the last decade. Many barriers to diabetic foot care exist and increase the likelihood of these complications.

“An individual may not know they are diabetic or the potential consequences for their feet because of disorganized or low-quality healthcare,” Dr. Reb said. “These consequences are decidedly worse among vulnerable, minority, and socioeconomically challenged communities.”

Drs. Aronow and Reb agree that education and self-care are the keys to preventing diabetes-related foot diseases, and that foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons are an underutilized resource for the diabetic community.

“Foot and ankle orthopedic surgeons can provide education, clarify the patient’s needs, and provide a bridge to related specialties,” Dr. Reb said. “Comprehensive, multidisciplinary care is fundamentally important to getting the best outcomes.”

Dr. Aronow added that orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons are trained in advanced surgical and non-surgical techniques that may prevent or treat ulceration and infection, correct deformity, improve function, and limit or prevent partial amputation.

“We want to help educate patients on diabetic foot care and provide the treatment they need to achieve the best possible patient outcomes,” Dr. Aronow said.

Visit FootCareMD.org to learn more about foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons and to find one in your area.

About Foot and Ankle Orthopaedic Surgeons

Foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons are medical doctors (MD and DO) who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries of the foot and ankle. Their education and training consist of four years of medical school, five years of postgraduate residency, and a fellowship year of specialized surgical training. These specialists care for patients of all ages, performing reconstructive surgery for deformities and arthritis, treating sports injuries, and managing foot and ankle trauma.

About the AOFAS

The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) mobilizes our dynamic community of foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeons to improve patient care through education, research, and advocacy. As the premier global organization for foot and ankle care, AOFAS delivers exceptional events and resources for continuous education, funds and promotes innovative research, and broadens patient understanding of foot and ankle conditions and treatments. By emphasizing collaboration and excellence, AOFAS inspires ever-increasing levels of professional performance leading to improved patient outcomes. For more information visit the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society online at aofas.org.

CONTACT: Elizabeth Edwards American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) 847-430-5091 [email protected] 

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