The Devastating Foot Complication Diabetics Often Miss

diabetic foot complications

If you’ve never heard of Charcot foot, you’re not alone. It’s a complication of the diabetic foot that’s becoming more prevalent as diabetes itself spreads throughout the world population.

What’s Charcot foot?

The first thing podiatrists Craig B. Frey, DPM and Megan L. Oltmann, DPM want you to know is that the name “Charcot foot” is a bit of a misnomer, since the condition can also affect the ankle.

Charcot foot is a sudden softening of the bones in the foot (or ankle). It’s seen a lot in diabetic patients or anyone who suffer from neuropathy or nerve damage. It can start with a minor injury such as a sprain or a stress fracture. Here’s what might typically happen next:

  • the patient doesn’t realize he’s injured his foot because nerve damage has lessened his ability to feel pain
  • the patient continues to walk on the injury
  • the bones of the foot undergo further damage, which continues to go undetected because the patients feels no pain
  • damage can include collapsed joints, bone fractures, fallen arches, bone deformities, skin ulcers

Symptoms to look out for

At Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland, we always recommend that our diabetic patients perform a daily foot check. Changes to look out for that point to Charcot foot include skin that’s warm or red, and structural changes such as an ankle that’s bending inward or a bulge in the foot.

Any such changes in a diabetic person’s foot should prompt you to pick up the phone and make an appointment immediately with one of our expert podiatrists. Sudden redness or swelling puts the diabetic foot at risk, whether it’s due to Charcot foot or something else. Charcot foot is best treated in its early stages through immobilizing the foot with a boot or cast, keeping off your foot and giving the bones time to heal. More complicated cases can require reconstructive foot surgery, using screws and pins to reshape the foot.

Diabetics and others with neuropathy:  don’t leave anything to chance. If you notice anything amiss about your feet, let our expert podiatrists get to the bottom of it. Call Dr. Oltmann and Dr. Frey in the beautiful Cleveland suburb of Solon, Ohio at (440) 903-1041. You can also contact us online.