What Is Charcot Foot?
Charcot Foot is a condition that causes your foot bones and soft tissues to weaken. This progressive condition is also known as “Neuropathic arthropathy.” The damage to the nerves that leads to numbness, lack of temperature recognition, and lack of sensation is called neuropathy. Patients with Charcot Foot may experience neuropathy. Because there is often no pain or decreased pain associated with Charcot Foot, a person with this condition might not even know they have a problem until they fracture or break their foot.
What are the Symptoms of Charcot Foot?
Symptoms of Charcot Foot include:
- Pain or soreness (in some instances)
- Swelling of the area
- Redness in the foot
- The affected area is warm to the touch
What Are the Causes of Charcot Foot?
Generally, Charcot Foot is most associated as a rare complication that occurs from diabetes, but other conditions can lead to Charcot Foot: Alcohol use disorder; drug abuse; Hansen’s disease (leprosy); syphilis; polio; syringomyelia; infection, trauma, or damage in the peripheral nerves; Parkinson’s disease; HIV; and inflammatory conditions such as sarcoidosis or psoriasis can also cause Charcot Foot to occur.
How Do They Diagnose Charcot Foot?
Your doctor will perform a series of tests to figure out if you have this condition including performing a medical examination, asking you questions about your medical history, and administering tests. Some of those tests might include a neurometer test, which identifies peripheral nerve dysfunction such as diabetic neuropathy; a pinprick test, which determines whether you can feel pain; and the Semmes-Weinstein 5.07/10-gram monofilament test, which analyzes sensitivity to pressure and touch in your large nerve fibers. X-rays and MRIs may be utilized as well during later stages of the disease.
What Is the Treatment for Charcot Foot?
Depending on how far the disease has progressed, the treatment for Charcot Foot can range vastly. If the disease is in its early stages, you may be fitted with a cast, removable boot, or brace and may have to use crutches or a wheelchair. After recovery, you will probably be fitted with special shoes or inserts and be advised to modify your daily activity in ways that will enable you to avoid developing this condition again. Some people will not have these options if the condition has progressed into later stages. Sometimes, a surgeon will have to go in and perform a reconstructive osteotomy, which involves a surgeon shortening or lengthening a bone in the foot or ankle to alter its alignment and ability to support the joints; a bone fusion, which involves a surgeon placing screws, rods, or plates in the body to lock the ankle joint, prohibiting motion; an ostectomy, which is the surgical removal of plantar prominences; or an amputation and prosthetic fitting, meaning the surgeon cuts the entire foot or a portion of the foot off and follows up by fitting the limb with a prosthetic device.
How is Charcot Foot Prevented?
In some cases, Charcot Foot is preventable. Getting regular foot and ankle checkups is a must, especially if you are prone to developing Charcot Foot. If you’re a diabetic, it’s also really important to keep your blood sugar levels under control so that you can minimize nerve damage to the feet. Another tip to avoiding this condition is to perform self-exams every day to ensure that you catch any potential signs or symptoms of a developing foot problem. And lastly, avoid activities and exercises that could cause trauma to your feet.
If you are experiencing any issues with your feet or think you may have Charcot Foot, never hesitate to reach out to the experienced foot/ankle surgeons at Southlake Orthopaedics. You can book an appointment easily by clicking here.