WHAT IS CHARCOT FOOT?
Charcot foot is a condition causing weakening of the bones in the foot that can occur in people who have significant nerve damage (neuropathy). The bones are weakened enough to fracture, and with continued walking, the foot eventually changes shape. As the disorder progresses, the joints collapse and the foot takes on an abnormal shape, such as a rocker-bottom appearance. Charcot foot is a serious condition that can lead to severe deformity, disability and even amputation. Because of its seriousness, it is important that patients living with diabetes—a disease often associated with neuropathy—take preventive measures and seek immediate care if signs or symptoms appear.
The symptoms of Charcot foot may include: Warmth to the touch (the affected foot feels warmer than the other), Redness in the foot, Swelling in the area, and Pain or soreness. Early diagnosis of Charcot foot is extremely important for successful treatment. To arrive at a diagnosis, the surgeon will examine the foot and ankle and ask about events that may have occurred prior to the symptoms. X-rays and other imaging studies and tests may be ordered. Once treatment begins, x-rays are taken periodically to aid in evaluating the status of the condition.
It is extremely important to follow the surgeon’s treatment plan for Charcot foot. Failure to do so can lead to the loss of a toe, foot, leg or life. Nonsurgical treatment for Charcot foot consists of: immediate immobilization, long term custom shoes and bracing, and activity modification. In some cases, the Charcot deformity may become severe enough that surgery is necessary. The foot and ankle surgeon will determine the proper timing as well as the appropriate procedure for the individual case.