Ulcers are open wounds that fail to heal. They are caused or exacerbated by poor blood and nerve supply and in the case of foot ulcers, bad feet architecture.
In severe cases, they can lead to amputation and there are an estimated 8,000 preventable foot amputations in Australia every year.
Those, particularly at risk, are people with contributing factors such as vascular disease, which affects bloody supply, and type 2 diabetes as it can result in nerve damage.
The 16-patient study published in the British Journal of Nutrition was led by Professor Jenny Gunton who is head of WIMR’s Centre for Diabetes, Obesity and Endocrinology Research, and chair of medicine at Westmead Hospital.
The randomised, double-blind study involved giving 500mg of slow-release vitamin C a day – roughly the weekly recommended intake – to people with foot ulcers at Westmead Hospital’s foot wound clinic.
The study found a significant improvement in ulcer healing by eight weeks with no amputations needed in the vitamin C group. In the control group, 44% of ulcers either didn’t heal in 180 days or required toe amputations.
Professor Gunton said the result was good news for people prone to foot ulcers, especially those most at risk due to a combination of vascular disease and nerve damage.
“Chronic foot ulcers are notoriously difficult to treat and have a significant impact on people’s quality of life,” Prof Gunton said.
“They can lead to very serious bone infections, and in around 40% of cases at our clinic, amputation is necessary – as we saw in our control group.”
Source: The Westmead Institute