Charcot Foot: Finding Help
Have you noticed that your foot is red or swollen and feels warm to the touch? You may not feel any pain, but these symptoms suggest that something serious is going on inside your foot that you will want to address immediately. The term Charcot foot may be unfamiliar to you, but it is a devastating condition associated with diabetes that you will want to do everything in your power to avoid. Catching it early is the key to successful treatment, so contact My Chicago Foot Expert at the first sign of these symptoms.
What Is Charcot Foot?
The incidence of diabetes has exploded in recent years, yet many people are not aware of its devastating effects. This condition causes problems in two main areas – nerve damage and decreased circulation – and these in turn may lead to problems in the lower extremities. Nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy) causes a diabetic person to lose feeling in their feet. This means they may not feel pain if they are injured, and may keep walking on damaged feet, making the problem worse. Poor blood circulation means the bones are not getting the nutrients they need to remain strong. Weak bones are more prone to fractures and deformities. As they degenerate, the structure of the foot can collapse, resulting in a serious condition known as Charcot arthropathy. This breakdown in the foot or ankle makes it hard to find shoes that fit well and give proper support, causes instability and the chance of further injury, and raises the risk of ulcers, infections, and gangrene.
Can Charcot Foot Be Treated?
Steps can be taken to help heal this condition if it is caught early enough. At the first suspicion that you might have this problem, have Dr. Stavros Alexopoulos examine your foot to determine the extent of any damage. X-rays can be used to visualize the position of the bones and detect any fractures. Your foot can be put in a cast or cast boot, to stabilize it and let the bones heal and the swelling go down. You will probably need to stay off of your foot by using crutches, a knee-walker, or a wheel chair for several weeks or months while you heal.
Make sure that you carefully follow all after-care instructions regarding when you can safely bear weight on your foot again. It doesn’t pay to undo the healing by putting weight on the foot too soon, and doing so may make the damage worse. Once your bones have healed, you may need custom-fitted shoes, because regular shoes may not fit the new shape of your foot. Such footwear will also be designed to protect your foot from developing ulcers (sores that won’t heal).
Prevention Is the Best Treatment
You can help prevent Charcot foot by watching your blood sugar level closely. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you have heard about the importance of keeping your level under control to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or kidney disease. Good control also will reduce the risk of neuropathy and poor circulation. The other important thing to do is to monitor your feet closely every day for any unusual symptoms and to keep them clean and dry.
If you develop an issue with your feet in spite of all your good efforts, don’t wait. For your peace of mind and good foot health, call our office in Chicago at 773-561-8100 and set up a visit with Dr. Alexopoulos today, or use the Book Online button on our home page. We want to help!