How Diabetics Can Deal with Pain from Charcot Foot


If you've just been diagnosed with diabetes, you are likely going through an adjustment period as you learn how to manage glucose levels, diet, and exercise. One aspect of this disease that you'll also need to learn about is comorbidities and side effects.

Comorbidities are conditions that can coexist with the primary disease, but they also stand alone as their own specific issue. For instance, hypertension can be a common comorbidity of diabetics. One comorbidity you should be aware of is Charcot foot. Read on to learn more about this condition and how to treat it.

What Is Charcot Foot?

Charcot foot is a disease that causes sores on the foot and causes joints and bones to weaken. It can also cause soft tissue inflammation. Without proper management and care, this disease can change the shape of the foot, cause pain, and actually cause bone fractures.

Diabetics are prone to this condition because of another comorbidity called peripheral neuropathy, which causes nerve damage and makes it easier for feet to get injured and heal slowly. While you may not initially experience pain in the early stages because of nerve damage, this condition can eventually cause pain if it isn't treated.

How Can You Manage the Pain from This Condition?

You should check your foot every day for sores and make sure that none are open or ulcerated since this can lead to infection and worsen Charcot foot. Also, contact an orthopedic specialist or a podiatrist can set you up with therapy socks to help support soft tissues in your feet. Because Charcot foot can cause painful inflammation, these specialized socks can be beneficial since they reduce swelling and improve circulation.

Besides therapy socks, consider getting fitted for orthotics. In the early stages of this condition, your ankles may be unsteady and your toes may curl under. This can cause pain and cramping, so orthotics can help to correct these problems. Plus, because bones can become weakened with this condition, orthotics provide extra protection during high-impact activities.

How Can an Orthopedic Specialist Help?

If you are in extreme pain or at high risk for bone fracture, then the previous management techniques may not be enough. You'll want to contact an orthopedic surgeon for help. Luckily, according to a recent study, four out of five diabetic patients with severe Charcot foot who underwent surgery were able to walk normally again. Surgery may eliminate your pain and prevent worst-case scenarios where the foot is deformed or infected and requires amputation. 

During surgery, your orthopedic surgeon can stabilize fractured bones and dislocated joints. In some cases, your surgeon may recommend fusing bones with plates and screws. Although fusion can make your feet less flexible, the great benefit is that it eliminates pain and provides support. If Charcot foot has affected your joints, then a complete joint replacement may be recommended.

Whatever surgery you undergo, it's important that you give yourself ample healing time. Because these surgeries can eliminate pain, some patients may return to their regular activities too soon and require further medical intervention. For more information, contact an orthopedist about pain management. 


22 May 2020

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