But few know, or have even heard of one condition in particular, one which is a direct result of diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage.
It is a very serious condition known as Charcot's disease and occurs in approximately 1 in 700 people with diabetes.
Also known as Charcot's joint and Charcot's foot, it can occur when an individual experiences diabetic neuropathy and they begin to lose sensation in their feet and legs.
The individual will then unknowingly sprain or even fracture their foot and because their ability to register the discomfort is distorted by the neuropathy, the injury goes unnoticed.
The resulting complication is Charcot's disease.
Most diabetics are not aware Charcot's disease occurs because the presence of diabetic neuropathy subsequently weakens the bones and muscles in their feet.
If a minor fracture, or even a sprain, are not attended to in a timely manner, the individual will unknowingly continue to walk on their foot because the pain is not registering as it should.
As a result, the individual will begin to experience further complications from the injury.
The common characteristic of Charcot's disease is a deformity of the foot from the untreated injury.
The deformity can occur due to a number of reasons:
- a dislocation of joints
- a laxity, or slacking of the ligaments
- fractured bones protruding into tissue or damaging nerves and blood vessels
- cartilage becomes damaged
Besides feeling warmer than the other foot, it can also exhibit redness or even swelling.
If the diabetic does not routinely inspect their feet on a daily basis, this can go unnoticed for days, helping the disease progress quickly since signs of Charcot's disease can come on quite suddenly.
Over time, the diabetic will also begin to notice a deformity of their foot.
Depending on how their foot has initially become injured, the arch of the foot may begin to rise out of place or become distorted.
Other types of foot deformity are also possible.
The treatment for Charcot's disease is considerably long.
The individual will need to have their foot placed in a cast for stabilization and to relieve pressure from the area.
The diabetic could be required to wear a cast for up to 6 or more months, depending on the extent of the injury and the deformity.
Pain medication is often necessary for the discomfort.