Charcot foot is a condition of the feet that occurs in those with significant nerve damage, also known as neuropathy. This results in the bones of the foot becoming weakened, and this can eventually lead to the foot becoming deformed and changing shape as the bones of the foot are pushed downward.
With enough walking and pressure without treatment, bone fractures and abnormal foot shape may become apparent in some cases.
This abnormality is a serious condition, and if left untreated can lead to severe deformity, disability, and even amputation.
Those with diabetes are urged to be especially cautious, as diabetes leaves people much more prone to neuropathy throughout the body.
Causes of Charcot Foot
As mentioned, the main contributor to the development of charcot foot is neuropathy, or damaged nerves due to diabetes, injury, and aging.
The early stages of neuropathy can be detected by noticing a loss of sensation in the foot, including a loss of ability to detect touch, pain, temperature, and pressure. Since feelings of pain are diminished, walking on a foot that is experiencing neuropathy may not be noticed early on and is what leads to the development of charcot foot in most cases.
Charcot Foot Symptoms
Charcot foot causes deformity and loss of sensation to the affected foot. Due to the injury to the area, it may be warm to the touch because while it may not be felt, there is continued damage and repair occuring where the neuropathy is. If the condition is advanced enough, pain may be experienced as well due to the bones being shifted or the skin being penetrated. Swelling may also occur.
If you begin to notice any deformity or loss of sensation to your foot, contact your Garland clinic as soon as possible so that symptoms may be controlled. If left untreated, the condition can develop and result in painful and permanent damage to the affected foot.
Charcot Foot Treatment Options
The available treatment options for charcot foot depend on the severity of each individual case. There are surgical as well as non-surgical options.
The most common non-surgical treatment options include:
- Custom Orthotic Shoes. Custom-designed shoes or shoes with specially designed inserts designed by a podiatrist may be needed to enable the patient to return to daily activities—as well as help prevent advancement of symptoms of Charcot foot, development of ulcers, and In cases with advanced symptoms and deformities, a brace may also be required.
- Immobilization. A very common initial practice when diagnosed with charcot foot is removing all pressure and weight bearing from the affected foot. This is necessary to keep the foot from further collapsing and to keep the neuropathy from progressing. During this period, the patient may be fitted with a cast, removable boot or brace, and may be required to move around using crutches or a wheelchair. It may take the bones several months to heal, although it can take considerably longer in patients that do not keep pressure off. Since the foot and ankle are so fragile during the early stages of charcot, pressure must be removed so that the weakened bones are able to take time to repair themselves.
How To Prevent Charcot Foot
Charcot foot can be avoided much easier buy those who do not have diabetes. By managing blood sugar, exercising occasionally, and eating in moderation, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing this debilitating condition.
If you experience any injury to the feet or experience any loss of sensation, tingling, or numbness to your feet, call us today and get a checkup and advice from a trusted podiatrist.