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853 Jefferson Ave
Washington, PA, 15301

Podiatrist - Washington
853 Jefferson Ave
Washington, PA 15301
(724) 225-7410
(724) 225-9469 - fax

Diabetes is a condition that affects about 16 million people. If you or someone in your life has diabetes, you are fully aware of how it can affect the entire body and lifestyle. Elevated blood sugar can damage your blood vessels, nerves, and internal organs. It can also cause serious issues with your feet.  Diabetic foot problems require great care and treatment, as the complications that can arise are serious and could result in amputation. Generally, these complications are caused by nerve damage (neuropathy) and poor circulation.

Charcot foot is one of the more critical conditions that can develop and can lead to foot deformity and disability. The most effective treatment is prevention and with the right information and care you can avoid a debilitating foot collapse.

Breaking Down

Neuropathy is the main factor that starts the development of Charcot foot. When sugar levels are not properly controlled, nerves in your feet can become damaged. This compromises your ability to feel heat, cold, and pain which means that an injury can happen on the exterior or interior of your foot, and you may not ever notice. Diabetes also impacts blood flow, and poor circulation can actually weaken the bones in your feet. Over time, with continued impaired circulation, the joints and bones in the foot can disintegrate and are at high risk for fracturing and collapse.

When an injury such as a fracture occurs, nerve damage prevents the signal of pain and you can continue walking on the injury, performing all of your normal daily activities. When this happens, the damage becomes compounded. The fracture can become more severe, joints can become dislocated and sharp edges of bone can become misaligned and lead to foot sores from the extra pressure. When all of this develops, the foot can change shape and become deformed, which is called Charcot foot. If you continue to walk on a foot that has broken down and been injured in this manner, the skin on your feet can develop ulcers, which makes you at risk for infection. When the bones have collapsed and your foot is crippled, your mobility is highly affected and a serious infection from an ulcer could require amputation.

Treating the Injury

It is important to take quick action if you have diabetes and notice any abnormal symptoms developing on your feet. Immediate treatment with Charcot foot can mean the difference between staying active and mobile and possibly losing your foot to amputation. You may not experience pain due to the nerve damage in your feet, but there are noticeable symptoms. Be aware of any redness, swelling, irritated skin, skin that is warm to the touch, and of course, any changes to the shape of your foot. If you notice any of these changes, contact Philip S. Pinsker, DPM as soon as possible. We can use state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging to see the extent of the damage and determine the best course of treatment to protect your feet.  Removing weight is generally the first line of defense against further damage. The fragile bones need time to repair themselves so you may need to be in a cast or brace to support the foot. Afterwards, a special shoe or boot may need to be worn to alleviate any pressure that could cause the bones to collapse again or even further. The time frame for immobilization depends on the severity of the injury, but it could take several months for your foot to be safe to use again. Because there is a chance that it will develop in your other, healthy foot, we will take measures to protect that one as well. If the collapse is serious and the damage is severe, surgery may be necessary to repair and reset your bones.  

Quick Action and Prevention

In addition to keeping your blood sugars under control, inspect your feet everyday to monitor for injury and complications. It’s important to contact our office if you notice any pain or changes in your feet so that we can catch Charcot foot before it gets out of control. Call our Washington, PA office at (724) 225-7410 or use our “Contact us” page online.