Charcot Foot

Sports related injuries are not the only contributors to ankle injuries.  From within the body, a deformity known as Charcot foot could develop due to the weakening of the bones. Induced by a condition known as neuropathy or nerve damage, the bones in the feet eventually become weakened due to fractures.  The joint ultimately disintegrates, and with persistent pressure placed on the foot due to activities such as walking, the foot eventually adapts a new shape as indicated in the image below. The rounded appearance known as a “rocker-bottom” is indicative of the Charcot foot.

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Induced by the reduced sensations in the foot, many patients lose their ability to feel. Typical sensory capability such as the ability to experience pain, temperature and pressure on the feet; are lost during the onset of neuropathy. Diabetics,  in particular, are susceptible to this condition.  As a result, careful monitoring of the extremities is important during treatment and care. With the onset of additional cardiovascular related illnesses on the rise, Charcot foot is one side effect of the associated physical changes.  The reduced sensations can lead to negligence of what is taking place in the feet, and over time, deterioration to the final shape is achieved.

Diagnosis of Charcot Foot

Consultation with an Orthopaedic surgeon, early in the treatment of conditions such as diabetes, peripheral artery disease or any condition which later leads to the development of neuropathy will be key. Periodic pressure tests to ensure that the patients can feel the critical sensations in their feet will be needed in order to ensure that the condition doesn’t persist. Additionally, periodic analysis of the internals of the foot, such as periodic X-rays, will be critical to the early detection and treatment of Charcot foot.

Prevention is better than cure, and with the onset of minimally invasive surgeries to reinforce the ankle joints, immobilisation, custom shoes and braces, Charcot foot can be kept under control.