Charcot foot involves weakening of the foot bones that occurs among those with significant nerve damage. The bones are weakened to a point where it breaks and if one continues to walk, the foot eventually alters shape. As the condition progresses, the joints collapse and the foot takes on an unusual shape such as a rocker-base look.
Charcot foot is a serious ailment that can progress to significant disability, deformity and even amputation. Due to its serious nature, it is vital that those with diabetes should take the necessary preventive measures and seek treatment if any indications arise.
What are the causes?
Charcot foot arises due to neuropathy which reduces sensation and ability to feel pain, temperature or trauma. Due to the reduced sensation, the individual might continue to walk which can worsen the injury.
Individuals with neuropathy face the risk for developing Charcot foot. Additionally, individuals with neuropathy with a taut Achilles tendon are also at risk for the condition.
What are the indications?
The indications of Charcot foot might include:
- Redness in the foot
- Soreness or pain
Management of Charcot foot
The treatment plan for Charcot foot should be strictly followed. Unable to do so might result to the loss of a toe, foot, leg or life.
The conservative measures include the following:
- Immobilization – due to the fragile state of the ankle and foot during the initial phase of the condition, they should be protected so the weakened bones can fix themselves. Full non-weightbearing is required to prevent the foot from collapsing further. The individual should not walk using the affected foot. During this time, a cast, brace or detachable boot might be fitted and even crutches may be used or even a wheelchair. Remember that it might take several months for the bones to heal, but might take longer in some cases.
- Customized bracing and shoes – footwear with special inserts might be required once the bone has healed to allow the individual to resume his/her daily activities as well as prevent the recurrence of Charcot foot, ulcers and possibly amputation.
- Activity modifications – adjustments in the activity level might be necessary to avoid repeated trauma to both feet.
Is surgery required?
In severe cases of Charcot foot, surgery might be required. The doctor will determine the right timing as well as the suitable procedure for the individual.