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Family Foot & Ankle

Don’t Miss Early Warning Signs of Charcot Foot

Nobody likes being in pain (who would?), but in the end, you have to admit it’s good that we’re able to feel it once in a while. Pain is often your body’s way of telling you there’s an important problem you need to deal with. When your body’s pain receptors aren’t working properly—as is the case with severe nerve damage or neuropathy, often as a complication of diabetes—even severe injuries might go undetected for long periods of time, allowing significant damage to occur. Charcot foot is one such example.

Early detection of Charcot foot is critical if you want a good outcome. In this condition, weakened bones in the foot splinter and crack. Because you can’t feel it, you keep standing and walking on them, progressively dealing more and more damage until those tiny cracks become major breaks, and joints literally disintegrate. It goes without saying that, should it get to this point, you’ll need surgery—unfortunately, that might mean amputation of a toe or foot, if the problem can’t be “fixed” otherwise.

So how can you detect the early warning signs of Charcot foot if your body’s primary message delivery system is permanently offline? It starts with vigilance. If you know that neuropathy in your lower legs is severe, you must take steps to manage your sugar levels and you must be checking your feet at least once per day for any signs of trouble. Even with severe diabetic neuropathy, the vast majority of complications can be prevented by simply being disciplined in your self-care routine and setting up regular diabetic foot check appointments.

For Charcot foot specifically, the first warning sign is usually swelling. There may have been an obvious injury or source of repetitive stress, but often there is not. Skin may be slightly reddish, and may also be warm to the touch. Of course, if you do have some sensation in your lower legs you may feel some soreness and pain as well, although you shouldn’t rely on the presence or absence of pain to make a judgement about the severity of the problem.

If you notice these or any other problems with your feet during your regular foot checks, we urge you to call as soon as possible for a professional examination. Being proactive about Charcot foot isn’t just a “good idea”—it could spare you an extensive surgery and prevent drastic consequences for your quality of life. Call us at 888-689-3317 to schedule your appointment.

Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.
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