This article was originally written by Belver Ladson
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Charcot Foot disease is a little known complication that can affect anyone who has diabetes. This condition also occurs in non-diabetic patients too, but diabetics can be more prone to this disease due to a diabetic complication known as neuropathy (nerve damage) Nerve damage can stop someone from feeling pain, so the foot can get injured without the person being aware that something is wrong.
The Charcot Foot condition is a very serious condition. Joints and bones can literally be crushed without being known to the sufferer. Imagine breaking your foot and not knowing that it’s broken due to no pain being felt. As time wears on, those broken bones (and sometimes joints) can suffer irreparable damage, with the person walking on the foot normally instead of the foot being in a cast and trying to heal.
Once this damage happens the foot can become misshapen, become dislocated, warm to the touch, and the arch of the foot can literally collapse. The Charcot condition is often called a “silent” disease since a sufferer might not know there is a problem until massive damage has occurred.
Treatment for this condition, traditionally has been to apply a cast so the fractures and dislocations can heal. The foot would be immobilized for a long period of time (often a year or more). Surgery, although done in some cases is ruled out for many patients due to an increased risk of the foot not healing properly.
Some patients must wear a special brace on their foot/leg in order to be able to walk with the Charcot condition present. It’s extremely important for the foot to stay as stable as possible in order to avoid future additional damage such as ulcers, infection and amputation.
A Charcot Foot (also called a Charcot Fracture) can bring devastating changes to a person’s life. Day-to-day activities can be limited and the person might find themselves immobilized for long periods of time, sometimes having to use a wheelchair to get around. Often people can go back to work after treatment with limitations and/or corrective shoes/braces.