Recognizing Serious Foot Injuries

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Can Foot Reconstruction Surgery Help Diabetes Patients?

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When not diagnosed or managed carefully, diabetes can cause lasting physical changes to the body. Foot deformities are among the most difficult and life-impacting side-effects of this disorder. But whereas foot damage from diabetes could only be slowed until amputation was needed, modern medicine is able to significantly improve diabetic patients' prognosis. These are a few of the ways foot reconstruction can repair and even reverse the effects of diabetes.

Repairing Bone Fractures

Diabetic patients develop fractures more easily than usual. This is due to the gradual loss of sensation in the feet as nerve damage progresses. Some fractures occur through bumps and falls, but others happen slowly due to changed gaits and an inability to feel foot pain. These fractures also take longer to heal. Foot reconstruction can help severe fractures using screws and pins, which hold bones together and encourage healthy recovery.

Minimizing Bony Prominences

Prolonged nerve and blood vessel deterioration in the feet leads to a condition called Charcot foot. If the fractures mentioned previously aren't caught in time, they will progress into this disorder. Charcot foot occurs when unnoticed foot fractures deform the feet. Bones that fall out of alignment push against the skin of the foot, creating ulcers as the patient walks normally. Because diabetes also affects blood flow to the feet, an otherwise small wound can quickly become life-threatening. 

Foot reconstruction surgery uses several methods to correct these bony prominences. Preferably, the bone can be gently maneuvered back into place. But if this is no longer possible, the protrusion may be shaved down or removed to reduce the risk of ulcers.

Correcting Hammertoes

The nerves in your feet help fight infection and also communicate with muscles constantly. As nerve activity in the feet declines, diabetic patients may also experience muscular atrophy. This most often manifests as hammertoes and claw toes. Both of these conditions happen when a muscle contracts and then never releases, leaving the toe stuck in an awkward position. To fix its natural alignment, a surgeon can straighten the toe and fuse bones together to prevent it from occurring again.

Rebuilding a Collapsed Arch

In its advanced stages, Charcot foot can lead to a total collapse of the foot's arch. This is called rocker-bottom foot, as the foot's profile shape resembles the bottom of a rocking chair. Rebuilding the arch of the foot makes it easier for patients to move around without causing further damage and deformity. With the help of a specialist surgeon, the effects of diabetes don't need to cost you or your loved one their mobility. Talk to your doctor today to ask more about the possibilities of foot reconstruction surgery.