Diabetes can cause a wide variety of foot-related problems, such as gangrene and diabetic neuropathy. Some of these issues can be so severe that they lead to amputation. However, one condition that doesn’t receive nearly as much attention but is equally as serious is Charcot’s foot.
Charcot’s foot is caused by diabetes-related nerve damage and results in foot deformities due to its effect on bones, joints, and soft tissues. Once you’ve been diagnosed with this condition, a Charcot Restraint Orthotic Walker (CROW) boot is often recommended, but prevention is ultimately the best medicine. Here are some of the many ways you can look after your feet to potentially prevent the need for a CROW boot.
Check Your Feet Daily
A core part of diabetic foot care is looking out for signs of potential problems. Even if you don’t feel pain in your feet, there’s always a small chance that you can spot issues before they become much bigger ones.
Look at the tops and bottoms of your feet and between your toes. Look for any red spots, cuts, sores, fluid-filled blisters, swelling, or warm spots. Even ingrown toenails, calluses, corns, and plantar warts are worth checking for, as are signs of athlete’s foot.
Wash Your Feet
Even though your feet likely get clean in the shower, put more effort into washing your feet every day in their own small bath. Use soap in warm, 90-degree water, but don’t soak them. Wash and dry them, then put cornstarch or talcum powder between your toes to ensure the skin remains dry to prevent a possible infection.
Be Gentle With Calluses and Corns
Corns and calluses are thick patches of skin that sometimes grow on your feet. These can turn into ulcers if you already have nerve damage. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations for learning how to care for these, but some medical professionals may recommend a pumice stone to smooth the skin.
Never cut corns or calluses, use liquid removers or apply medicated pad plasters. Cutting and removal products may result in skin damage and infections.
Improve Blood Flow
Not everyone living with diabetes will be able to avoid Charcot’s foot, but improving the blood flow in your feet may assist with preventing diabetes-related foot problems.
Be physically active with exercise like walking, bike riding, swimming, and dancing. You may also be able to improve blood flow if you quit smoking, wiggle your toes throughout the day, and avoid wearing tight socks.
Protect Them From Temperature Extremes
If you have diabetes-related nerve damage, you may not feel any temperature extremes on your feet that can lead to injuries and infections. Keep your feet as protected as possible by always wearing shoes on hot pavement and at the beach.
Refrain from putting your feet near open fires and heaters or using heating pads and hot water bottles on them. If you’re going to be out in the sunshine, lather sunscreen on the tops of your feet to protect them from sunburn.
What is Charcot’s Feet?
Charcot’s foot is a condition that can lead to deformity and disability. It occurs when there is nerve damage in the foot, which can cause the joints to collapse. This condition is also known as neuropathic joint disease or Charcot arthropathy.
The most common cause of Charcot’s foot is diabetes. Diabetes can damage the nerves in your feet and cause loss of sensation. There are instances where it can lead to joint collapse and deformity. Other causes of Charcot’s foot include trauma, infection, and other neurologic conditions.
What is a CROW Boot?
A CROW boot, or Charcot Restraint Orthotic Walker, is a type of orthopedic shoe that is used to stabilize and support the foot and ankle following an injury or surgery.
The boot consists of a rigid outer shell that surrounds the foot and ankle, and a padded inner liner that helps to protect the skin. It is held in place with straps that wrap around the leg and a velcro closure.
Is a Crow Boot Permanent?
A person typically wears the boot for weeks, months or years, and then discard them when the foot and ankle have healed sufficiently. Some patients wear their CROW boots for walking or activities that will require pressure to be applied on the foot. The duration will depend upon the physician’s recommendation.
Charcot Restraint Orthotic Walkers are commonly used following injuries or surgeries to the foot or ankle. The boot helps to stabilize the foot and ankle and protect the skin from further injury.
A CROW boot is an effective management technique for Charcot’s foot, but alternatives are available. Look after your feet, protect them from damage and infections, and you may be able to avoid this diabetes-related complication that can sometimes impact your entire way of life.