Dr. Howie Zheng is a general neurologist with The Neurology Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.
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At The Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Mercy in Baltimore, our foot and ankle specialists work with patients who have diabetes to care for their feet, which can become deformed by Charcot disease.
Charcot disease can cause very significant bone deformities. As a result of neuropathy, the nerve supply to bones and joints is not normal. From very minor trauma or prolonged walking, small areas of stress can build up in the bone or in a joint leading to a crack or a stress fracture. This is the same type of stress fracture that the athlete develops. However, the patient with diabetes is unable to perceive the pain from the stress injury and walking is continued.
The stress crack in the bone now begins to get worse and develops into a fracture. The fracture also gets worse as more walking occurs on the injured foot or ankle.
Charcot foot disease symptoms may include:
Charcot foot disease can be diagnosed with a physical exam as well as use of radiographs and bone scans.
The most important aspect of treatment of Charcot disease is to limit any weight bearing, walking and loading of the foot and ankle until the bone has healed. The goal of treatment is to prevent severe deformities of the foot from occurring and for the patient to be able to wear a shoe without difficulty.
Continued walking with weight bearing can lead to very significant joint destruction and bone deformities. The treatment depends on the severity of the bone deformity at the time of diagnosis. Some cases require surgery immediately and others can be treated in a boot. The use of a boot or cast is important and no weight should be put on the foot until healing occurs.
It can take up to a year for the bone to heal and the boot may have to be worn during this healing phase.
After a long journey and years of living with a chronic disease, a patient gets back on his feet - literally.
The top rated team of doctors and surgeons at The Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, is recognized as one of the region’s best programs for foot and ankle reconstruction and injury. Our surgeons offer pioneering surgical care and innovative, one-of-a-kind treatment for foot and ankle conditions, including osteoarthritis, sprained ankle, ankle arthritis, Achilles tendinitis, flat feet, heel pain, foot and ankle trauma, nerve problems and problems of the big toe. Mercy Medical Center is proud to have been named a Best National Hospital in Orthopedics by U.S. News & World Report.
The Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction is part of The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital at Mercy Medical Center.
Dr. Gary Pichney is a podiatrist specialized in advanced surgical techniques with expertise in forefoot, rear foot and ankle surgical reconstruction, sports medicine and amputation prevention in the diabetic foot.
Nurses tend to know doctors and this nurse knew just the right doctor to call when she ran into serious trouble with her foot.