We treat many conditions for our patients, but the ones associated with diabetes are especially concerning. Medical issues like Charcot foot highlight the importance of vigilant diabetic foot care and the high level of attention that needs to be given to the lower limbs by those who live with this disease.
Understanding Charcot Foot
This serious condition is connected to neuropathy (nerve damage) and weakened bones in the feet, both of which are linked to diabetes in a significant fashion. Diabetic neuropathy is a condition experienced by over half of all individuals who have diabetes. It may cause burning, tingling sensations that are painful, but even worse is when neuropathy leaves feet numb and unable to feel injuries that happen.
In addition to nerve damage, diabetes might also bring peripheral arterial disease (PAD) to an individual. This condition negatively affects circulation, which is especially problematic for the feet. These lower appendages are already the furthest points from the heart, and blood has to travel the longest path to reach them. When narrowed arteries decrease blood flow, it deprives body tissues, including the bones located in the feet, of the nourishment they require.
Weakened bones fracture easily and, when this is undetected on account of diabetic neuropathy, continued use contributes to further damage. This dangerous cycle continues to the point that the foot deformity becomes rather severe and appears to be extremely deformed.
Charcot Foot Symptoms
Due to the critical nature of this medical issue, individuals who live with diabetes have to be aware of warning signs and symptoms. Since pain is not often experienced, other symptoms to be noted include soreness, redness, warmth to the touch, and swelling (particularly when there is no obvious injury or explanation).
Early diagnosis and treatment is important for reducing the risk of amputation. Upon recognizing any of the aforementioned symptoms, schedule the earliest possible appointment with our office so we can evaluate the situation.
Treatment for the condition depends on a variety of factors, including the stage and severity of the deformity, other existing medical issues, and the patient’s wellbeing.
With regards to conservative treatment methods, the following tactics might be used:
- Bracing and custom shoes – After the bones have healed and a patient is able to resume daily activities, shoes with special inserts might be used to prevent ulcers, amputation, and even recurrence of the Charcot foot. Bracing can also be used in cases where there is significant deformity
- Immobilization – During early stages of Charcot foot, the ankle and foot are especially fragile and must be protected. Affected feet should not bear weight to prevent further collapse and give the weakened bones the opportunity to repair themselves. This means no walking until it has been approved, at which point a cast, brace, or removable boot might be used, possibly along with a wheelchair or crutches.
- Activity modification – In order to prevent repeated trauma in both feet, activity levels will need to be modified.
In cases where surgery is necessary, we will provide a recommendation to a trusted surgeon.
To prevent a case of Charcot foot, we encourage patients to practice diligent diabetic foot care, including conducting thorough daily foot inspections, regularly coming in for check-up with our office, and monitoring blood glucose levels to reduce the progress of neuropathy. Always contact us immediately if anything is out of the ordinary.
Professional Diabetic Foot Care in Indianapolis
When we consider a medical issue like this, it is simply best to prevent it from happening in the first place. We can help by working with you to create a diabetic foot care plan based on protection and proactive measures to keep you safe. After prevention, early care is the next best option. As soon as you recognize the warning signs of Charcot foot, schedule your appointment with us right away.
Contact our Indianapolis podiatrist office for all of your foot care needs by calling (317) 545-0505 or fill out our online form today to schedule your appointment.