Charcot foot is a rare and serious condition that affects those with peripheral neuropathy, especially people with diabetes. Charcot weakens the bones, joints, and tissues of the foot or ankle and can even break or dislocate the joints in the foot or ankle. If not caught in its earliest stage, this can lead to collapse of the joints in the foot, leading to a foot deformity. It is important to catch this condition early for the best outcome. Our Springfield, VA, podiatrist explains more here.
There isn’t one cause of Charcot foot, however, an unnoticed sprain or injury is often present. Since patients suffering from Charcot foot have neuropathy, they can’t feel the injury or sprain in their foot or ankle.
Symptoms include redness, warmth, and swelling in the early stages of Charcot foot. If the foot collapses, the arch may round out, forming what is called a rocker-bottom foot deformity. The toes may start to curve under, the ankle becomes unstable, and the resulting deformity can cause ulcers to develop.
Treatment for Charcot foot aims to take the weight off the foot (offload), treat the bone disease, and prevent new fractures. Offloading simply removes weight in the early stages in order to prevent inflammation and stop the disease from progressing. Treating bone disease may include employing a cast and crutches. Later on, a walking boot or prescription footwear such as a Charcot Restraint Orthotic Walker can be used to lessen pressure to prevent complications and the development of new ulcers, deformities and fractures.
Surgery may be recommended in severe cases with extensive deformities that increase the risk for foot ulcers. Ulcers can be difficult to heal and can threaten limb health, sometimes leading to amputation, so it is imperative to avoid ulcers in the first place.
If the deformity makes it difficult for the patient to use orthotics or walking boots, surgery may be a better option. Following surgery, you will have to avoid putting full weight on the Charcot foot for an extended period of time.
The information provided in this article is not meant to be medical advice and is for educational purposes only. If you would like to learn more about this and other podiatry-related topics, feel free to contact The Podiatry Center by clicking here or by calling 301-232-3764.