Warning Signs of Charcot Foot

Curtis Wagner
Dr. Curtis Wagner provides both conservative and surgical care for bunions, ingrown nails and sports injuries.

In many areas of our lives, having an early warning sign can make a huge difference in the actions we take. When we’re given an early warning about a powerful hurricane headed our way, there are obvious measures we take to assure our families’ safety. If a police officer pulls you over and lets you off with a warning, (instead of a ticket), you’ll naturally drive a little slower. There are also medical warnings that impact the decisions we make.

Keeping that in mind, let’s look at the warning signs of Charcot foot. If you are able to recognize them early, you will be able to take the appropriate measures—like contacting our medical team—to reduce your risk of having serious problems. Charcot foot develops when foot bones break and nerve damage is present

Charcot foot is a condition that can cause deformity and disability. In severe cases, amputation may be a necessary treatment option.

The problem begins when foot bones become weakened for individuals who have neuropathy (nerve damage). Often, the weakening is caused by restricted blood flow from a condition called peripheral arterial disease (PAD). PAD and neuropathy is an especially dangerous combination because the weakened bones are easily broken, even while walking during normal daily activities. Since neuropathy affects the nerves’ ability to report sensory experiences—even to the point of numbness—an affected individual will not know that damage has been sustained.

Since the individual is unaware of any problem, he or she will continue performing normal tasks. In turn, this may lead to even greater damage and deformity. This creates a vicious cycle.

Both neuropathy and PAD are conditions frequently seen in diabetic patients, so one of the warning signs for Charcot foot is having diabetes. Although it is possible to have neuropathy or PAD without having diabetes.

Of course, if you (or a loved one) have diabetes, you should have a diabetic foot care plan in place. Your plan is intended to help protect your from problems like this.

Specific symptoms for Charcot foot include:

  • Swelling in the foot
  • Redness in a particular area
  • Warmth to the touch, especially in comparison to the other foot
  • Pain or soreness
  • Unusual bumps on the foot

Even more important than receiving a warning, is what you do with the warnings you receive. If your “check engine” light is on, and you ignore it, there’s a chance your car will break down at a rather inconvenient time or location. On the other hand, you can take your car to be serviced and have peace of mind, knowing an expert has made sure you’re good to go. This is very much the same for medical conditions like Charcot foot.

If you notice anything out of the ordinary with your foot and ankle, be sure to come see us at Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida. Our doctors are highly educated, skilled, and ready to help you overcome lower limb problems. Call us at 407-339-7759 or 352-589-9550 (if you are calling from Lake County) and request your appointment with any of our five Florida offices – Orlando, Altamonte Springs, Kissimmee, Lake Mary, or Tavares.

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