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Charcot Foot: The “Unknown” Deformity


Charcot Foot: The “Unknown” Deformity
Charcot foot is a condition causing weakening and as a result breaking down of bones in the foot that usually occurs in people with significant nerve damage (neuropathy). This deformity is commonly seen in diabetic patients who have significant peripheral neuropathy. As the bones weaken, they begin to fracture causing the joints to collapse. As result, the foot takes on an abnormal shape, such as a rocker bottom appearance.

Charcot foot develops as result of neuropathy. When a patient has neuropathy there is decreased feeling in their feet and inability to feel temperature and pain. Hence, the combination of increased activity and decreased sensation begins the cascade of foot bone to breakdown.

In neuropathic patients, the symptoms are sometimes difficult to notice due to lack of sensation. When the Charcot process begins, there is increased warmth to touch to affected foot, redness and swelling in the area with occasional pain.

Early diagnosis of Charcot foot is extremely important for successful outcome. So when the patient with history of neuropathy notices similar symptoms to the ones described above, getting an appointment with a foot and ankle specialist in a timely manner is paramount. It is also extremely important to be compliant when following a treatment plan of your physician. Failure can result in loss of foot, leg or life.

There are several non-surgical treatment options for Charcot foot. Firstly, immobilization is critical to protect any further breakdown of the weakened bone but also allow for repair. Patients are usually immobilization in either a cast, removable boot or brace. Another option is modifying activity levels to prevent repetitive trauma to the feet. Bracing may also help once the Charcot foot has become stable.

If Charcot foot is not diagnosed sooner, the deformity can become severe which may result in rigid deformity with possible open sores to the foot and/or ankle. In these instances when the condition is in the advanced stages, surgery may be necessary.

In order to prevent progression of the Charcot foot and the complications, keeping blood sugar levels under control

If you have any similar symptoms, you should contact a foot and ankle specialist immediately at Community Foot Specialists. For more information on further treatment options and other foot and ankle injuries, call to schedule for a consultation today at (937) 426-9500.

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