Diabetic patients who suffer from peripheral neuropathy are most likely to suffer from Charcot Foot, which can lead to severe deformity, disability, and even amputation.
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy causes a loss of sensation due to nerve damage and a diminished ability to feel hot and cold, pain, or trauma. The bones in the foot eventually weaken and fracture from this stress and the foot begins to change shape. Because of the neuropathy, the diabetic patient feels no foot pain, and continues to be on their feet, aggravating the stress on the bones. As the disorder progresses, the joints collapse and the foot takes on an abnormal shape, most commonly a rocker-bottom appearance.
Symptoms of Charcot foot include
- Foot is warm to the touch (warmer than the other)
- Redness and swelling
- Pain or soreness
Charcot foot can be treated successfully without surgery, but it’s essential to follow your podiatrist’s recommendations to avoid amputation of a toe, foot, or leg.
Non-surgical treatment for Charcot foot may include
- Immobilization: Because the foot and ankle are so fragile during Charcot, they must be protected so the weakened bones can repair themselves. Complete non-weightbearing is necessary to keep the foot from further collapsing. This may be done with a cast, removable boot, or brace, in addition to crutches or a wheelchair. It may take the bones several months or longer to completely heal.
- Custom shoes and bracing: After the bones have healed, custom orthotic inserts may be recommended to help you return to daily activities, and to prevent a recurrence of Charcot foot. If your feet have suffered a permanent deformity, bracing may be required.