Botox injections may help treat diabetic foot ulcers

School of Medicine researchers are seeking volunteers to participate in a study to determine if botulinum toxin (Botox) injections can help heal diabetic foot ulcers.

Seventeen million Americans live with diabetes, and one of the major complications from the disease is foot wounds. Untreated ulcers can lead to infection, and in severe cases, amputation of the feet and legs.

In past studies, patients who underwent surgery to lengthen the Achilles tendon reduced the risk of ulcer recurrence. Lengthening the Achilles tendon, or heel cord, weakened the calf muscle and diminished the pressure on the ball of the foot where ulcers occur.

University researchers decided to see if Botox injections — which have been shown to weaken calf muscles in other studies — could have the same effect on pressure on the ball of the foot. They postulate that gradual return of pressure and muscle strength will be similar to that experienced by the Achilles lengthening surgery without the complications and costs of surgery.

To qualify for the study, volunteers must have diabetes, be able to walk and have a recurrent foot ulcer.

During five study visits over a two-year period, volunteers will undergo wound-care assessment and evaluation of balance, muscle strength, sensory skills and heel bone density. They will receive Botox injections in the calf muscle during one study visit.

Study participants will be compensated for their time and effort.

The study is being led by Mary Hastings, D.P.T., instructor in physical therapy.

For more information, call Kay Bohnert at 362-2407.