Diabetes is an ailment that affects about 16 million people in the United States, that’s 32 million potential foot conditions. Diabetic foot conditions are a major health concern and a common cause of hospitalization. One of the more critical foot problems diabetics are faced with is Charcot arthropathy, or Charcot foot. This is a condition that can lead to severe deformity, disability, and in extreme cases, amputation.
What is Charcot Foot?
Weakening of the bones, which can deform the shape of the foot and lead to the inability to walk, causes Charcot foot. It’s typically associated with individuals who have a significant amount of nerve damage or neuropathy. Bones affected by Charcot foot are weakened to the point of fracture, causing joints to collapse and the foot to change shape.
What Causes Charcot Foot?
Individuals with neuropathy, and in some cases tight Achilles tendons, are at risk for developing Charcot foot. Patients with neuropathy have decreased sensation in their feet, affecting their ability to feel pain or temperature. As a result, they may continue to walk on the weakened foot, making the injury worse.
How Do I Know If I Have Charcot Foot?
Someone with this ailment will typically feel very little pain, however there are symptoms. These range from redness in the foot, which occurs in the early stages, to warmth, pain or soreness, and swelling. If the condition hasn’t been treated, the foot will take on an abnormal rocker-bottom appearance.
How Is Charcot Foot Treated?
Early diagnosis of this diabetic foot condition is extremely important for treatment. Upon positive determination, your physician will begin treatment and periodically take x-rays of the foot to aid in evaluating the status of the condition.
Non-surgical treatment consists of immobilization, custom shoes and bracing, and activity modification. Because the foot and ankle are fragile during early stages of Charcot foot they must be protected in order for the bones to repair themselves. Bearing weight on the affected foot is completely prohibited until your physician deems it safe. This may entail a cast, boot, or brace and even crutches or a wheelchair for several months. In some cases, surgery may be required.
How Can I Prevent Charcot Foot?
You play a vital role in preventing diabetic foot complications. Examine your feet every day and regularly consult your physician. Be sure to keep your blood sugar levels under close observation to reduce the progression of neuropathy and avoid over exertion.
You are the first line of defense in protecting your feet! If you have noticed symptoms contact Aadvanced Foot Care Associates of New York to schedule a visit! Visit us online to schedule an appointment at any of our three locations. We promise your feet are in good hands!