Friday, November 17, 2017

Diabetes and foot care: treating Charcot foot

Charcot foot, pronounced “shar-kō,” is a condition where your foot becomes red, then swells, and turns painful. It is not exclusive to diabetic patients, but its effects can be worse if you have the metabolic disease. That’s why, when you have common diabetic symptoms such as loss of sensation and numbness, it’s crucial to check your feet daily to lower the risk of complications, such as Charcot foot.

woman examining her foot

The culprit: Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a condition where you lose sensation in a problem area. Often, for a diabetic patients, this area is their feet. When you suffer from diabetic neuropathy, you will no longer “feel” what is happening to your feet. This includes the pain and swelling associated with Charcot foot.

Neuropathy, common among patients with diabetes, is caused by prolonged exposure to high blood sugar or the inability to control blood sugar.

Charcot foot happens when you have severe neuropathy. The condition results from the weakening of the bones in the foot. When you have this condition you begin to develop small fractures in your foot, but the pain doesn’t register because of your lack of sensation. The deterioration continues because your damaged foot is never rested and allowed to recover.

Adding trauma on top of trauma, your foot’s arch will eventually collapse and the recognizable Charcot foot deformity will appear.

The solution: Early detection

Early detection is important. Though there are little to no outward signs, as with any diabetic neuropathy issues, it is extremely important that you learn to carefully inspect your body.
  • Is your foot warm to the touch?
  • Is your foot red in color?
  • Does your foot have any swelling?
Regularly check for these symptoms, or enlist the help of another to inspect your foot if you’re unable. If you suspect that you might have Charcot foot, try to stay off your foot and make an appointment to talk to your doctor immediately. Your doctor may order X-rays and other imaging tests to diagnose the problem.

What else can you do?

Charcot foot treatment is lengthy and challenging, but if caught early, it is manageable. Early treatment might include getting a cast to help your foot bones heal properly or wearing protective shoes. In many cases, patients can be treated through non-surgical means.

If your Charcot foot has advanced past the early detection phase, then immobilization and surgery may be necessary. When the condition is left inadequately treated, Charcot foot may lead to amputation.

For more information and up-to-date research, visit Logansport Memorial Hospital’s diabetes education health resources web portal.

Get help for Charcot foot and other diabetic issues

Logansport Memorial Hospital has a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals ready to diagnose and treat diabetic issues. We will work with you to create a plan of action for treatment and preventive maintenance. Make an appointment to see our podiatrist, Dr. Alex Lebrija.

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