Peripheral neuropathy is a condition of nerve damage, usually in the lower extremities, and is a complication of uncontrolled diabetes causing 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 continue to walk, which can lead to Charcot neuropathy, a condition characterized by fragile bones that can break or dislocate even with minor forces. Initially, you don’t feel any pain and are not aware of any injury to your foot.
Symptoms include redness, swelling and increased temperature in the affected area of the foot. If not treated, your foot may become deformed, leading to severe disability and may even require amputation.
If you suffer from diabetes, daily foot inspections and regular checkups 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 is centered on reducing the weight on the foot. Your doctor may apply a cast or brace to the foot to immobilize it, and instruct you to walk only with the support of crutches or a wheelchair. Following immobilization, 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.