Healthy support systems in your lower limbs are vital to their health—and your overall comfort. If your nerves and circulatory systems do not function well, your tissues weaken and begin to break down. Issues with the nerves mean you may not be able to feel the difference, either. Over time, you could end up with a severely deformed foot. This is the risk of the diabetic complication, charcot foot.
What is It?
Diabetes is a destructive disease that causes significant damage to nearly every kind of tissue in your body. Over time, fluctuating blood sugar levels break down blood vessels, nerves, organs, and bone. Untreated, this can allow devastating deformities, like Charcot foot, occur in your lower limbs, which are particularly susceptible to diabetes.
This condition is a slow collapse of bone structure from severe neuropathy. The damage to your nerves means you are not able to feel injuries to your feet and ankles, while the breakdown of your blood vessels mean your bones are not receiving the nutrients they need to stay strong. Your skeleton becomes weaker and more susceptible to damage, while you slowly lose your ability to feel foot problems. You may not notice stress fractures or small breaks developing.
This makes you more likely to continue walking and putting pressure on a limb that is already injured. The repeated strain compounds the issue, further breaking down the bones in your foot. Over time, your lower limb collapses. You may begin to develop slow-healing ulcers from the abnormal pressure as well.
Know the Signs
As the problem progresses, you should notice serious and visible changes in your feet and ankles, even if you can’t feel them. Typically the foot feels warm to the touch from the inflammation in your tissues. Areas may appear reddened as well. Usually there is swelling around the damaged area. You may also feel some degree of pain or soreness, especially as the problem worsens.
Charcot foot can be managed conservatively if you catch the changes early enough. Waiting too long simply gives the condition a chance to progress and deform your foot even more. Worse, if the foot breaks down too far or becomes infected, you may be forced to have the limb amputated to address life-threatening complications. Dr. Noah Levine will need to examine your foot carefully to both diagnose your condition and plan the best way to treat it.
Repairing the Breakdown
Our highly-trained staff will use X-rays and other tests to identify your condition and determine its severity. Then we can begin targeted treatment to manage your condition. If the damage is caught early, noninvasive therapies should be effective enough to heal your limb. Your foot will need to be immobilized in a cast and not used for weight-bearing at all until the bones are repaired. Once the bones have healed, you’ll need to wear custom shoes or special braces to support your foot when you walk. This allows you to return to your activities without over-straining your feet. Still, you may need to adjust your activities to avoid frequent or repeated hard impacts, especially when exercising.
If your foot is significantly deformed, isn’t responding to conservative treatment, or you’re developing ulcers, surgery may be the better option for you. The midfoot will be reconstructed and held in place with screws and plates. You may need to have your Achilles tendon lengthened and bony prominences removed as well. It’s also possible that you have your ankle joint fused to keep your foot in the correct position.
Charcot foot is a serious concern for anyone with diabetes, but you don’t have to resign yourself to damaged and deformed lower limbs. Investing in diabetic foot care can go a long way in preventing complications like this one, as well as catching any conditions before they have a chance to permanently injure you. Don’t wait until amputation is your only option for recovery. Contact Absolute Foot Care Specialists in Las Vegas, NV for an appointment. Call (702) 839-2010 today.