CHARCOT FOOT

Charcot foot is a condition that affects the bones, joints, and soft tissue in the feet and ankles. Charcot foot is a disease that can happen in people who have nerve damage and some form of neuropathy. Most common cause of Charcot foot is from diabetes. When blood sugar levels are high over a long time, both nerve and blood vessel damage occurs in the feet. In rare cases, it is caused by other health problems.

 

Neuropathy secondary to nerve damage in the foot or ankle leads to numbness, pain, redness, and swelling. The symptomatic foot may feel hotter than the other foot. Typically, micro-trauma over time increases the chance that you could break bones in your foot or have another injury and not feel it. When your foot gets injured a lot, the joints can break down, and the foot can become deformed. Patients are typically not aware of this condition as it goes through acute phases simply because they cannot feel pain. Nerve damage makes it harder to notice the amount of pressure on the foot or if it is being stressed. The result is ongoing small injuries to the bones and ligaments that support the foot.

 If you have severe Charcot foot, you may not be able to walk normally. The problem also increases the risk of foot ulcers and infections.

 

To prevent Charcot foot you need protect your feet as much as possible to keep them from being injured. If you already have Charcot foot, you may need to wear specials shoes, casts, walkers, or braces.

 

Causes

  • You may develop bone stress fractures in your feet, yet never know it.

  • Continuing to walk on the fractured bone often leads to further bone and joint damage.

Other factors leading to foot damage include:

  • Blood vessel damage from diabetes that can increase or change blood flow to the feet. This can lead to bone loss. Weakened bones in the feet increase the risk of fracture.

  • Injury to the foot signals the body to produce more inflammation-causing chemicals. This contributes to swelling and bone loss.

Symptoms

Early foot symptoms may include:

  • Mild pain and discomfort

  • Redness

  • Swelling

  • Warmth in the affected foot (noticeably warmer than the other foot)

At later stages, bones in the foot break and move out of place, causing the foot or ankle to become deformed.

  • A classic sign of Charcot is rocker-bottom foot. This occurs when the bones in middle of the foot collapse. This causes the arch of the foot to collapse and bow downward.

  • The toes may curl downward.

Bones that stick out at odd angles can lead to pressure sores and foot ulcers.

  • Because the feet are numb, these sores may grow wider or deeper before they are noticed.

  • High blood sugar also makes it hard for the body to fight infection. As a result, these foot ulcers become infected.

 

It is important to manage Charcot foot early on in the acute phases. In the chronic phase, patients may develop a rocker bottom type of foot. Rocker bottom shaped feet have a large chance of developing pressure ulcers. They typically occur in the mid arch region. These pressure ulcers are difficult to heal and may lead to soft tissue or bone infections. Treatment from a podiatrist is necessary and time sensitive.

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