What is Charcot foot?

From potential nerve damage to circulation issues, diabetes can create many problems for your feet. Charcot foot is one of them. This disease, also called Charcot arthropathy, is a condition that weakens the bones in your feet enough that they can fracture. Because patients with diabetes may suffer from neuropathy, they may not even realize they’ve broken a bone. If the patient continues to walk with the fracture, the foot will eventually develop an abnormal shape with a “rocker-bottom” appearance. This serious deformity is painful and debilitating, so it’s important to understand how controlling your blood sugar levels and regular visits with a skilled podiatrist can help prevent or treat this complex foot condition. Understanding Charcot foot

Diabetes and Your Feet

Knowing how diabetes affects your feet requires a basic understanding of how your body processes food. When you eat, the food turns to sugar. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, regulates this sugar by sending it to your cells to use as energy right away or store for later. People with diabetes either don't produce insulin (type 1 diabetes) or their body has difficulty utilizing the insulin it does make (type 2 diabetes).

Without insulin to tell the sugar where to go, an excess can build up in the bloodstream. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage the nerves in your feet, resulting in a condition known as peripheral neuropathy. Symptoms can include pain, tingling, burning, and decreased sensation and function. Having peripheral neuropathy may make it more difficult for you to feel injuries in your feet and a condition like Charcot foot to go unnoticed.

Not only can a diabetic patient with peripheral neuropathy suffer a traumatic break or a stress fracture without realizing it, they can sustain additional fractures and endure other symptoms such as:

  • loss of sensation
  • muscle contractions 
  • difficulty walking
  • redness or swelling
  • feet that feel warm to the touch

Without proper podiatric care, Charcot foot can lead to the collapse of the joints in the affected foot and result in severe disability, deformity, or even amputation.

Charcot Foot Treatment

When dealing with Charcot foot and other diabetes complications, the old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” rings true. The best defense against Charcot foot is prevention, which means working with your endocrinologist to control your blood sugar levels to slow the progression of peripheral neuropathy.

However, if you're already experiencing signs of Charcot foot, there's a lot our team of podiatrists can do to help. Non-surgical treatment approaches, which may be appropriate when the condition is caught in its early stages, include immobilizing the weakened bones to allow them to heal completely. A cast, boot, brace, crutches, wheelchair, or other assistive device can help you avoid putting weight on your foot during the vital healing process. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or realign the bones in your foot. Once your injury has resolved, we'll provide the guidance—and recommend any special shoes or inserts—you need to keep your fragile feet safe and healthy.

Catch Diabetic Foot Problems Early

Diabetic feet need special care to stay healthy. Making one of our podiatrists a member of your diabetes management team can help keep your feet looking and feeling their best. We provide gentle, effective routine care such as nail trimming and corn or callus removal, as well as advanced therapies for injuries and issues that arise.

Let Us Treat Your Feet

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with diabetes and need a care plan for your feet, need help keeping peripheral neuropathy in check, or have symptoms of Charcot foot, you’ve come to the right place. Complete our contact form, or call us to schedule an appointment with one of Massapequa Podiatry Associates' talented, caring podiatrists.