If you or a family member has diabetes, you know that you are at risk of many complications that can manifest as joint and bone disorders. The disease of diabetes can contribute to these conditions. However, for some joint and bone problems, the cause isn’t clear.
Nerve damage or neuropathy can cause bones to weaken. This in turn can result in deterioration of a joint, called a Charcot joint. Also known as neuropathic arthropathy, this deterioration most often occurs in the feet. Because they are so weak, the bones may easily fracture.
It’s really a vicious cycle that begins with nerve damage. With neuropathy, the patient may not feel that there is any problem in the feet and will continue walking on the weakened bones and joints. This ultimately results in the altering of the foot’s shape and the collapsing of the joints.
Diagnosing Charcot Joint
Anyone with neuropathy, whether caused by diabetes or some other cause, must be alert to the symptoms of Charcot foot. Watch your feet for:
- Loss of sensation in the joints
- Skin that is warm to the touch or reddened
- Visible deformity, swelling or instability
In addition to those with neuropathy, patients who have an extra-tight Achilles tendon may also develop Charcot joint.
Prompt Treatment of Charcot Foot Is Essential
It’s important to recognize and diagnose Charcot foot as soon as possible to minimize the damage to the joints. If untreated, a Charcot joint deformity may deteriorate significantly to cause disability or even amputation.
Please come in to see us at Pasco-Hernando Foot & Ankle if you suspect you have any type of joint problem in your foot. We will begin with x-rays in our office and give you a complete examination. Treatments to prevent ulcers and amputation include:
- Letting the weakened bones heal over a period of months by completely immobilizing the foot and ankle with no weight-bearing activities. A cast or boot will stabilize the foot and crutches or a wheelchair may be necessary.
- Special custom-fitted shoes with inserts will help the patient return to normal activities after healing is complete.
- For severe deformity, bracing may be necessary.
- Protecting the feet from trauma by avoiding certain activities.
If the deformity is severe and treatments have little or no effect, surgery may be required.
We Can Help with any Foot or Ankle Deformity
Charcot foot is a serious condition that requires immediate attention, but there are many other causes of different types of foot deformities. If you observe anything unusual, contact Dr. Lawrence J. Kales, board certified podiatrist. We will quickly diagnose your problem and discuss all treatment options with you. You can request an appointment via the website or call us at our Hudson office at 727 868-2128 or our Spring Hill office at 352 683-5799. We are here to help – call us today!