Though rare, Charcot foot can be a hereditary issue or one brought on by diabetes when the condition begins to cause peripheral neuropathy. If you don’t catch Charcot foot early on and do something about it, it can make the joints in your foot collapse and lead to your foot looking deformed.
There are actually five different kinds of Charcot foot. They can cause muscle weakness, atrophy, or loss of sensation in the muscles in your foot. Your foot can become reddish-looking, swollen, and warm to the touch.
Finally, this can lead to open wounds in your foot. Those wounds can become infected. And you may even need to get your foot amputated if you don’t take action early on.
How Do You Get Charcot Foot Diagnosed?
In its early stages, Charcot foot is actually hard to diagnose. You may not have any visible signs of the condition. And the underlying damage starting to happen in your foot may not be detectable with X-rays or laboratory tests.
But, as the condition progresses, it becomes more obvious. If you have peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetes, that makes you a prime target for this condition. And eventually, you’ll exhibit enough of the signs of the condition (red, hot swollen feet without an ulcer) to warrant a diagnosis.
If you’re a diabetic with peripheral neuropathy, it’s important to be under the supervision of a doctor with experience treating the condition. That way you can catch Charcot foot early on if it develops and avoid much of the pain and distress it causes.
How Do You Treat Charcot Foot?
As long as it’s caught early, Charcot food is highly treatable and you can count on avoiding the worst problems it causes (foot deformity or amputation).
Treatment typically begins with non-surgical interventions. First, your doctor will more than likely recommend rest and taking as much weight off your foot as possible. This reduces pain and inflammation, and prevents deformity.
You may also need to have your foot placed into a cast for 8-12 weeks. You may need the assistance of crutches, a knee walker, or a wheelchair during this time. The cast will remain on until the redness, swelling, and heat of your foot return to normal.
With the cast off, you’ll need prescription orthopedic footwear. This relieves pressure on your foot, which prevents a repeat injury or ulcers.
Going forward, you should also keep your blood-sugar levels under control, use extra precautions while exercising, practice placing less weight on your affected foot, and go to your doctor for regular check-ups.
Is Surgery Necessary?
As long as you catch Charcot foot early on, surgery is not necessary. But if you let Charcot foot go to the point where your foot begins to develop a deformity, then surgery may be your only option to correct the condition and prevent the need for amputation.
If you take care of Charcot foot as soon as you notice it, or even if you take preventative action because you have diabetic neuropathy, you can live with the condition and have a relatively normal, and healthy lifestyle.
If you notice you have red, swollen, and hot feet, or if you’re simply a diabetic with peripheral neuropathy, make sure you see your doctor ASAP. It saves you plenty of pain and disruption to your life in the long run.
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