Rising foot temperature can precede wound development

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Thermometers may be the latest tool in the battle against diabetic foot ulcers.
Thermometers may be the latest tool in the battle against diabetic foot ulcers.

Does increased skin temperature indicate a foot ulcer may occur? The answer appears to be yes, a new study has found. 

Temperature has long been used to mark inflammation and monitor foot issues such as neuropathic arthropathy, a degeneration of the weight-bearing joints of the foot that is also related to diabetes. Full findings appear in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research.

Investigators who reviewed patient data found that temperature is a strong preventive tool. But they added that their meta-analysis did not support the theory that there is a mean norm foot temperature that can be used as a benchmark to monitor pathological change. 

This approach — also known as thermometry — has been used for more than two decades to monitor issues such as Charcot arthropathy (a progressive musculoskeletal condition). But its application in the realm of diabetic foot care is a fairly new development, according to experts.

Inflammation has been recognized as one of the earliest signs of foot ulceration. It can be identified by five well-established signs: redness, pain, swelling, loss of function and heat. 

Many of these signs are difficult to assess objectively in a nursing home resident. But identifying areas of injury by the presence of inflammation might allow healthcare providers to take preventive steps to decrease inflammation before a wound develops.