Image via WikipediaWhen you read that title you might wander what charcoal has to do with feet? Just know that this has nothing to do with charcoal, but Charcot (pronounced “sharko”) foot is a real problem that many, mostly diabetics, face.
Charcot foot is a extreme condition that happens to someone who can’t feel their feet. The reason Charcot foot is more common with people with diabetes is because of diabetic Neuropathy, where the feeling in the foot is lost because of nerve damage. Charcot foot is where your foot actually changes shape because of bones fracture and disintegrate. The fact that you can’t feel the extreme pain because your foot is numb, allows you to continue walking on the foot, thus damaging the bones more. If the Charcot foot is caught early, the problem can be treated with a total contact cast. If the problem goes on without being treated, reconstructive surgery or amputation will be needed.
If you do catch it early enough, the cast you’ll get will be molded to fit your foot and will control your foot movement, supporting your foot in all areas. This allows the foot to heal fully, as long as you stay off the foot, thus not damaging the foot further. The cast will be changed frequently to continually move the shape of your foot back to normal or as close as possible without reconstructive surgery. To get the total contact cast though, you must have good blood flow through you foot.
The other route you can go if the Charcot foot is caught early on is a custom walking boot, but this will take longer to heal because you’ll be putting weight on your foot. The boot helps reduce the swelling in your foot, thus allowing your body’s natural healing processes to get into the injury and fix it. The fastest way to heal a Charcot foot is to keep your weight off of it though.
If you have any questions on Charcot foot or how diabetes effects your feet, contact Dr. Adam Teichman at East Penn Foot & Ankle Associates.