Diabetes Fact Sheet

Government and Media Information

  • Average cost of treating a chronic wound:  $10,376
  • Average cost of acute wound (no complications):  $11,840
  • Average time to closure of acute wound (no complications):  165 days
  • Total estimated cost to treat chronic leg ulcers in Ontario (2005)  $1,474,429,600

Diabetes Foot Ulcers

Diabetes foot ulcers are the leading cause of amputations.

Foot ulcers and wounds are one of the most devastating complications of Diabetes.  Ulcers and wounds arise from poor circulation associated with peripheral vascular disease and neuropathy, injury and infections.  Diabetes affects circulation and immunity, and over time, the sensory nerves in the hands and feet may be damaged.  Patients with Diabetes often may not feel a foot injury, blister or cut.  Small sores, ulcers or wounds may become infected, leading to serious complications that may result in amputation.

Nevertheless, the evidence is clear that Diabetes foot ulcers and wounds that result in amputation may be prevented by early detection, prevention measures such as regular foot checks, stopping tobacco use and effective wound care.

Diabetes foot infections are the most common reason for admission to hospital for Canadians living with Diabetes.  At highest risk of amputation for Diabetes foot ulcers are those who are over 40, smoke, and have lived with Diabetes for 10 years or more.

Key Facts

2.3 million Canadians live with Diabetes today.

  • 15% or 345,000 will develop a Diabetes foot ulcer in their lifetime.
  • In 2008, 621,000 Canadians with Diabetes reported that they suffer from nerve damage.

Canadians with Diabetes are 23 times more likely to be hospitalized for a limb amputation than someone without Diabetes.

  • 85% of all amputations are the result of a non-healing foot ulcer.
  • More than half of these amputations may have been prevented by appropriate footwear and more effective nail and foot care.
  • 50% of all lower limb amputations in Ontario are directly related to Diabetes.

More than 4,000 Canadians with Diabetes had a limb amputated in 2006.

  • An estimated 1,500 Ontarians with Diabetes had a limb amputated in 2008.
    • 51% of those with a first amputation in 2006 may have a second limb amputated by 2011.
  • 30% of Canadians with Diabetes will die within one year of amputation.
    • 69% of limb amputees with Diabetes will not survive past five years.
  • Canadians with Diabetes who see their family doctor or health team at least 3 times a year are 33% less likely to have a limb amputation.

Diabetes foot ulcers cost our healthcare system more than $150 million annually.

  • “Demonstration Project for Community Patients with Lower Leg and Foot Ulcers:...”, Sibbald, R.G. & Queen, D., Wound Care Canada, v. 5, no. 1, 2007.
  • National Diabetes Fact Sheets Canada 2008, Public Health Agency of Canada, 2008.