Peripheral neuropathy is a condition of nerve damage, usually in the lower extremities. It is a complication of uncontrolled diabetes, which results in diminished sensation, and decreased ability to feel pain and temperature in your feet. Because of this loss of sensation, you may not be aware of infections or trauma, and do not seek appropriate treatment and continue to walk. This can lead to Charcot neuropathy, a condition characterised by fragile bones that can break or dislocate even with minor forces.
Symptoms of Charcot Neuropathy
Initially, you don’t feel any pain and are not aware of any injury to your foot. Your foot may have redness, swelling and increased temperature in the affected area. When left untreated, your foot may become deformed, leading to severe disability and may even require amputation.
Diagnosis of Charcot Neuropathy
If you suffer from diabetes, daily foot inspections and regular check-ups with your doctor is imperative. Early identification is vital for the treatment and management of Charcot neuropathy. The condition can be diagnosed by reviewing your medical history and performing a thorough physical examination. Your doctor may order X-rays and other imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment of Charcot Neuropathy
Treatment is centred on reducing the weight on the foot. Your doctor may apply a cast or brace to the foot to immobilise it and instruct you to walk only with the support of crutches or a wheelchair. Following immobilisation, you may be instructed to wear shoes with special inserts. You will be advised to modify your level of activity. Severe cases usually require surgery to correct the deformity.