Charcot foot is a sudden softening of the bones in the foot that can occur in people who have significant nerve damage or neuropathy. The bones are weakened enough to fracture, and with continued walking the foot eventually changes shape. The symptoms can appear after a sudden trauma or even a minor repetitive trauma such as a long walk. As the disorder progresses, the arch collapses and the foot takes on a convex shape, giving it a rocker-bottom appearance, and making it very difficult to walk. Charcot foot is a very serious condition that can lead to severe deformity, disability, and even amputation.
Because of its seriousness, it is important that patients with diabetes take preventive measures and seek immediate care if signs or symptoms appear. It is extremely important to follow the treatment plan; failure to do so can lead to the loss of a toe, foot, or even leg. Treatment for Charcot foot consists of: immobilization in the early stages to protect the soft bones so they can repair themselves. Complete non-weight bearing is necessary to keep the foot from further collapsing. Custom shoes and bracing may be prescribed, and surgery may be necessary based on the severity of the deformity and the patient’s physical condition.
The patient can play a vital role in preventing Charcot foot and its complications by following these measures:
· Diabetic patients should keep blood sugar levels under control to reduce the progress ion of nerve damage in the feet.
· Get regular check-ups from a foot and ankle surgeon.
· Check both feet every day!
· Be careful to avoid injury and overdoing an exercise program
· Follow the surgeon’s instructions for long-term treatment to prevent recurrences, ulcers, and amputation.
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