Charcot foot is a progressive condition that involves the gradual weakening of bones, joints, and soft tissues of the foot or ankle. Charcot foot is a severe complication of diabetes and is caused by peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) in which the person’s foot or ankle becomes insensate (insensitive to pain).The condition is thought to be caused by repetitive injury, typically a series of microtraumas a person may only be minimally or even completely unaware of.
As Charcot foot progresses, the bones can become so weakened that they fracture. Joints may dislocate in the foot or ankle. With repetitive trauma and degeneration, the joints in the foot may eventually collapse, causing the foot to become deformed and take on an abnormal shape such as a rocker-bottom appearance. The deformity can lead to foot sores and ulcers, bone infection (osteomyelitis), and if not treated aggressively, amputation.
Charcot foot is also known as Charcot Arthropathy or Charcot Neuroarthropathy.
Charcot foot can develop with a traumatic event to their bone in their foot or ankle; due to neuropathy that is associated with Charcot the injuries may go untreated, undiagnosed and misdiagnosed. As the patient continues to ambulate on the broken foot the injury gets more severe and causes excessive trauma to the bone.
Eventually, the bone loss causes changes in the structure of the foot and areas of the foot collapse become severely deformed. When the collapse occurs to the midfoot, it rounds the bottom of the foot into a so called rocker-bottom foot deformity. Depending on the location of the bone break, the toes can start to curve under like claws or the ankle can become deformed and unstable. Sharp edges of bone may put pressure on the skin, creating the risk of chronic skin sores. The end result — a combination of bone disintegration and trauma – is Charcot foot.
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