Charcot foot is a progressive collapse of the foot that occurs in individuals with peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by a number of conditions; however, Diabetes is by far the most common. Individuals with peripheral neuropathy lose sensation in their feet. This loss of protective sensation can lead to foot injuries that go unnoticed for a prolonged period of time and can potentially result in Charcot foot.
Charcot develops due to weakening of the foot bones. This process often begins with a fracture of a bone caused by trauma, overuse, etc. Due to the neuropathy there will be no pain associated with the fracture and the individual will continue to walk on the fractured bone, ultimately resulting in fractures of other foot bones and the eventual collapse of the entire foot (Charcot foot). Once this process has taken place, the individual’s foot will take on a rocker-bottom appearance.
Common symptoms of Charcot foot include warmth, redness, swelling and/or soreness of the affected foot. If you have these symptoms and are Diabetic, you should see your podiatrist immediately. Early diagnosis of Charcot foot is imperative for treatment success. Charcot is a very serious condition that can result in deformity, disability and even amputation. Recognizing Charcot early can reduce the risk of these complications.
Treatment for Charcot foot is often based on individual severity. Conservative care consists of immobilization (often in a completely non-weight bearing cast), custom shoes and bracing, and activity modification. If the Charcot foot is severe enough, surgical intervention may be required. Unfortunately, there is no overnight fix for Charcot foot. The damage that has occurred to the foot bones can take many months to heal, and requires patience and diligence from both the patient and physician in order to achieve the best outcome.
It is never too early to take preventative measures to reduce your risk of developing Charcot foot. The best thing you can do is stay on top of your foot health. This encompasses daily foot checks, regular visits to your podiatrist, keeping blood sugar under control and avoiding excess trauma/pressure to your feet. If you notice any changes to your foot health please consider making an appointment with Dr. Gary N. Friedlander or Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona. We want to keep you healthy and active!