There are many possible conditions and injuries that can happen to feet and ankles. One of the more serious is a major risk for those individuals who live with diabetes. When we look at Charcot foot, it is important not to only understand why it happens, but also know the potential complications that can arise from this particular injury.
The Root Causes of Charcot Foot
When it comes to diabetes, there are two associated conditions that can play off of each other to create a dangerous situation. Neuropathy (nerve damage) and poor circulation increase the vulnerability of your feet.
The nerve damage that often accompanies diabetes interferes with the ability for your nerves to send signals to the brain. Poor circulation is an issue because body tissues do not receive adequate amounts of nutrients to stay healthy and strong. Given that your feet are the furthest point from your heart, the diminished blood flow can take its toll there, especially on the bone tissue in the feet.
Neuropathy and circulation issues play in tandem when weakened bones become damaged, but the impaired nerves are unable to alert your brain to this fact. Since you do not think anything is wrong, you will continue walking and standing—both of which put a tremendous amount of force on your feet—as you normally would. In turn, this can lead to greater damage, which still goes unnoticed. The cycle can continue until you have developed Charcot foot, which is a highly deformed state.
Symptoms and Complications
With neuropathy impairing your body’s ability to feel, pain is not a symptom of Charcot foot. Instead, the symptoms are generally visual in nature. At its early stages, this condition will cause the foot to swell, especially when there is not an obvious injury (heavy item dropped, etc.). There will likely be redness in the affected area as well.
A major concern with Charcot foot is that a fractured bone can cause skin ulceration. This becomes a serious matter when infection sets in. As the situation becomes severe, especially if it has gone unnoticed for a while, it may necessitate an amputation of the foot. Another complication that can develop is that structural foot collapse leads to clubfoot or other deformities that cannot be repaired.
Treating Charcot Foot
As for treatment for this injury, there are conservative and surgical options that might be used, depending on the severity. With regard to nonsurgical methods, custom shoes and casting are the best chances for avoiding surgery. Casting may be able to protect the affected foot and reduce swelling in the area. This will require weight to be kept off the foot until bones are mending. Once they have fused back together and swelling has subsided, a custom walking boot or specialized diabetic shoe may be prescribed.
We may recommend surgery for this foot deformity for cases that cannot be treated conservatively, or when a patient has a high risk of developing ulcers. If we are going to use a surgical procedure, we will discuss it fully and answer your questions so you can know exactly what to expect from your surgery and the recovery process.
Top Diabetic Foot Care in Long Island, NY
It is our hope that you do not need to seek treatment for Charcot foot, and the best way to accomplish that is through an effective diabetic foot care plan. Let our skilled professionals help you with yours. Of course, if you need foot care for any issue that is causing pain, discomfort, or interfering with your ability to perform normal tasks, give us a call at (516) 804-9038. You can also schedule an appointment at our Massapequa, NY office online to find the help you need and attentive care you deserve.