Foot & Ankle Surgery located in Fort Worth and Weatherford, TX
Taking care of your feet is a very important thing to your health because we use them for so much of what we do while standing, and it’s easy to ignore them until they’re in pain. Our feet have almost 8,000 nerves, 250,000 sweat glands, and 52 bones total in a pair (making up 25% of the total bones in your body), and we use them to take up to about 6,000 steps daily. Not taking care of them can lead to a number of common foot problems, such as bunions, blisters, athlete’s foot, corns, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, hammertoe, flat feet, and plantar warts.
Diabetic neuropathy is a common medical condition that can also directly affect feet, leading to conditions like Charcot foot and the deformities that can result from this problem. To understand the link between these two illnesses, let’s explore what Charcot foot is, how diabetes can cause it, and what can be done to treat it.
If you live in the Fort Worth or Weatherford, Texas, area and you’re dealing with foot problems due to diabetes or other conditions, Drs. Gary Driver, Glen Beede, Gregory Jaryga, and their experienced staff at Trinity Foot & Ankle Specialists can help.
This is an illness marked by nerve damage to your foot that leads to loss of feeling, swelling, discoloration, and pain. Because of the damage to nerves, small injuries and infections can do a lot more harm because you won’t feel the signs until the condition becomes more severe. If not treated properly and in enough time, Charcot foot can lead to severe foot damage and deformity, causing the joints in your foot to collapse, and can lead to infections that spread elsewhere in the body. It may even necessitate amputation in the most severe cases.
Also referred to as Charcot arthropathy, Charcot neuropathy, and diabetes foot, this rare illness is often the result of diabetic neuropathy (specifically peripheral neuropathy). This form of neuropathy happens when diabetes damages small blood vessels in your body, lowering the amount of blood flow to nerves and leading to loss of sensation in areas throughout the body, including your feet. This makes detecting injuries harder and slows down healing in affected areas.
The type of diabetes and how long you’ve had it directly affects your chances of getting the foot problem, but other factors play a role, like age, bone mineral density, arterial disease, and your history of foot injuries.
There are non-surgical and surgical methods for treating Charcot foot and its related deformities, which vary depending on the severity of your condition:
If your condition has no diabetic ulcers or infections, then getting a cast or specialized boot can protect your feet, help relieve pain, take the weight off the foot, and reduce inflammation. Wheelchairs and crutches can also help if you need to relieve these symptoms for several months, and once the damage has healed enough, special shoes can be customized to offer permanent support.
The exact treatment will be catered to your needs, but several surgeries can be done to rearrange the joints and bones to allow you to walk again. Debridement can be done to remove ulcers, and amputation is a last resort if the damage is bad enough that other methods do not help.
If this condition is caught early, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends checking the affected foot daily for discoloration, swelling, cuts, sores, blisters, corns, calluses, and skin or nail changes. Additionally, you should wash them daily in warm water, lotion them, avoid bare feet by wearing well-fitting shoes or socks, trim toenails straight across, put up your feet to help with blood flow and get regular checkups.
Charcot foot isn’t common, but it’s dangerous if not caught in time. If you think you’re dealing with symptoms of this condition, make an appointment with Drs. Driver, Beede, Jaryga, and their team at Trinity Foot & Ankle Specialists today to get help.