Diabetes and Charcot Foot: How Are They Linked?

Diabetes and Charcot Foot: How Are They Linked?

When you have diabetes, you need to pay special attention to your feet. If you develop peripheral neuropathy, you may have trouble with sensation in your feet and toes. Decreased sensation leads to injuries and sores on your feet.

Another complication of diabetes is Charcot foot and ankle. If you're not careful, this rare condition may lead to fractures and permanent deformities in your feet.

Dr. Jeffrey E. McAlister is our foot and ankle specialist at Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute. Dr. McAlister has a wealth of knowledge and years of experience treating foot and ankle conditions from diabetes.

If you're at risk for Charcot foot and ankle, Dr. McAlister gives you the tools and treatments to keep your feet healthy.

How diabetes affects your feet

Diabetes is a medical condition that causes high glucose (sugar) levels in your blood. Over time, the steady high level of blood glucose causes damage to parts of your body, including the tiny blood vessels in your feet.

Damage to the blood vessels means decreased blood flow to your feet, which damages nerves and impairs sensation. Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most prevalent conditions in diabetics.

Neuropathy puts you at an increased risk of infection due to poor wound healing. Without the proper amount of blood, injuries or cuts can't heal properly, which can cause diabetic ulcers or slow-healing wounds. The decreased blood supply to your feet also compromises your skin’s integrity.

When you have diabetic neuropathy, you're also at risk for another condition called Charcot foot and ankle.

What is Charcot foot?

Charcot foot is a complication of peripheral neuropathy. It's especially prevalent if you have diabetes.

Charcot foot impacts the bones of your feet, along with the soft tissues and joints in your feet and ankles. When you have this condition, your bones become weak and brittle, becoming prone to fractures.

The joints in your feet are also prone to dislocation. Because these joints and bones are so small and you have decreased sensation, you don't immediately know that you have this condition.

When you have dislocated joints and fractures in your feet, your foot may become deformed. The deformity happens because the joints and bones collapse from weakness and instability.

The early signs of Charcot foot include swelling, redness, and warmth of your foot or ankle. It's sometimes confused with an infection, although this isn't likely if you don't have any breaks or sores on your skin.

Complications of Charcot foot

When you're diabetic and concerned about neuropathy and Charcot foot, Dr. McAlister and the Phoenix Foot and Ankle team can help. When Dr. McAlister finds Charcot foot early, he can treat it through castingbracing, and custom orthotics.

However, when you've had Charcot foot and it goes undiagnosed, you can suffer serious complications. One of the main complications of this condition is the aforementioned foot and ankle ulcers. These happen from your bones pushing against the skin, causing pressure sores. Because of decreased blood flow to your feet, you’re at risk for infections that won’t heal, and even amputation in severe cases.

Charcot foot also leads to permanent deformity of your foot or ankle. A deformity only happens when you don't seek treatment, and the condition continues until the joints and bones collapse. If you have a deformed foot, your mobility is affected, and you may experience even more pressure sores on your feet.

When you have diabetes, foot care is crucial to your health. Call our team today at 602-761-7819 to schedule a consultation with Dr. McAlister, or book an appointment online to discuss your foot or ankle problem treatment.

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