Are you suffering from redness and inflammation in foot and ankles? Are you experiencing numbness in your affected feet? You may be having a condition known as Charcot Foot. Know what is Charcot Foot disease, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
Charcot Foot Definition
Picture 1 – Charcot Foot
Source – foothealthfacts
Charcot Foot disorder is a medical condition that leads to weakening of the bones in the foot. The disease is also known as Charcot Joint and Neuropathic Osteoarthropathy. It is a very severe disorder that can give rise to disability, serious deformity and amputation.
Charcot Foot History
Medical world had Charcot Foot named after French clinician Jean-Martin Charcot who is also regarded as the founder of modern neurology. Jean was the first person to describe the dissolution of joint surfaces and ligaments caused by injury or disease. The Charcot Foot original description as Neurogenic Arthropathy can be traced back to as early as 1869 and was restricted only to Syphilis patients.
Charcot Foot Symptoms
Some of the major symptoms of Charcot Foot condition are
Warmth to Touch
Charcot Foot Syndrome generally arises in one foot though it may affect both feet over a period of time. The affected foot feels warmer to touch than the other one.
The affected region in the foot is usually red in appearance. The redness is pronounced.
There is inflammation in the area of the Charcot foot and ankle. Swelling becomes apparent where the disease makes itself visible.
Sufferers usually complain of soreness or pain in the affected foot area. However, pain may be temporary as numbness sets in into the leg.
Loss of Sensation
In the later stages of the disorder, people with Charcot Foot experience numbness in the affected foot.
As the disease progresses, it can give rise to other severe problems like fracture. The joints may collapse making the foot eventually take an unusual shape. The victim loses sensation in the foot but can continue walking which makes the disease worse.
What Causes Charcot Foot?
Know about some of the main Charcot foot causes :
Charcot Foot is usually a result of neuropathy. The disease is generally seen in people suffering from neuropathy or significant nerve damage. Neuropathy, or peripheral neuropathy, is a disease that leads to an abnormality of the Central Nervous System (CNS). The disorder results in injury, degeneration or inflammation of peripheral nerves or nerves outside of the Central Nervous System. Peripheral nerves help contraction of the motor nerves or muscles and lets humans experience sensory nerve sensations. Unfortunately, these are fragile nerves and can suffer damage easily. Neuropathy symptoms actually depend on the cause and the nerves involved.
Continuous stress on the feet, such as while walking or running, can often result in collapse of joints and bones in a foot leading to the appearance of this disease.
A sudden injury such as dropping heavy object on the foot can cause sudden collapse of its arch resulting in the formation of this condition.
Who Gets Charcot Foot Condition?
Ill health of the peripheral nerves decreases sensation and the capability to experience sensations of trauma or temperature. Individuals with long term neuropathy are at greater risk for suffering from Charcot foot. Neuropathic patients with a stiff Achilles tendon may also develop this disorder sometime in future.
The disease is also found in people suffering from problems like Diabetes Mellitus and Chronic Hyperglycemia.
Charcot Foot Diagnosis
Diagnosis of Charcot foot is generally done by an experienced surgeon who asks the patient about the symptoms and events that might have occurred prior to the appearance of the condition. Imaging Tests and X-rays are useful in evaluating the condition. The medical history and health of the sufferer is also taken into account for a proper diagnosis.
Charcot Foot Treatment
Charcot Foot treatment options involve both surgical and non-surgical ways of treatment. The non-surgical means of Charcot Foot cure involve
Immobility is highly necessary to prevent damage to foot. Walking, running and even other normal movements can put persistent stress on the foot and further weaken the bones. The affected foot fails to support normal body weight for several months or years until treatment makes it able once again. The foot needs to be put in constant rest to prevent its collapse.
Damage of one foot normally puts extra pressure on the other one. The level of activity of both feet needs to be modified to protect them.
Once the bones have healed, specially designed shoes with customized inserts may be needed to help patients return to activity. In Charcot Foot footwear of special build also helps prevent formation of ulcers, Charcot Foot recurrence and amputation.
Pneumatic Walking Braces may be needed in case of significant deformity of the arch.
Charcot Foot Surgery
Charcot foot Surgery basically involves repair of the collapsed arch of the foot. In Charcot Foot repair by surgery is usually carried out if non-surgical modes of treatment fail to bring about an improvement in the condition of the sufferer. Charcot Foot reconstruction surgery is also needed if the foot condition does not allow fitting of a specialized boot or cast to aid healing. If not done on time, Charcot Foot surgery may result in amputation of a toe, the entire affected foot or even loss of life.
Charcot Foot Complications
Charcot foot usually remains hidden in people with neuropathy and makes it visible much later. In later Charcot foot stages patients suffer from problems like
- Joint Dislocation
- Bone Damage
- Cartilage Damage
- Ligament weakening
The disease can also lead to severe deformity of foot which is usually permanent. In some cases of Charcot Foot amputation becomes necessary.
Charcot Foot Long Term Outcome
Charcot Foot usually takes some months to heal. In some patients however, Charcot Foot healing time may extend to several years. With effective treatment, the affected foot becomes entirely normal again.
Charcot Foot Pictures
Want to know how a Charcot Foot looks like? Here are some Charcot Foot disease pictures for you. Check out these Charcot Foot images. These useful Charcot Foot pics will give you an idea about the appearance of this condition.
Picture 2 – Charcot Foot Image
Source – diabetesuffolk
Picture 3 – Charcot Foot Photo
Source – footcaredirect
Charcot Foot early diagnosis and treatment is highly necessary to prevent severe long-term complications and amputation. If you suspect yourself to be having a Charcot foot, it is advisable that you get a medical checkup done immediately. With timely medical assistance you will be back on your feet in no time and enjoy life as well as others.
Written by anirudh
on April 21st, 2011. The article was last updated on September 1st, 2011