What is Charcot Foot Deformity?
Charcot foot deformity, also known as Charcot arthropathy, is a condition characterized by weakness and inflammation of the bones, joints, and tissues of the foot. If not treated appropriately, it can lead to joint collapse and loss of mobility.
Causes of Charcot Foot Deformity
Charcot foot deformity is caused by nerve damage that results in loss of sensation in the foot. The inability to feel pressure, pain, or temperature changes in the feet could result in a person continuing with activities that cause progressive damage and deformity to the foot.
Risk factors for Charcot Foot Deformity
Risk factors for Charcot foot deformity include:
- Sprain or injury to the foot
- Alcohol consumption
- Drug abuse
- Parkinson’s disease
- Foot sores
- Inflammatory conditions
- The tightness of the Achilles tendon
Symptoms of Charcot Foot Deformity
Symptoms of Charcot foot deformity include:
- Swelling of foot and ankle
- Bone fracture
- Loss of stability of joint
- Flat foot
- Warmth in the foot and ankle
Diagnosis of Charcot Foot Deformity
It may be difficult to diagnose Charcot foot in the early stages, so your doctor will discuss your symptoms in detail and perform a thorough foot examination. Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:
- Imaging tests: X-rays and MRI scans are done to detect any deformity or injury to the bone and soft tissues.
- Pinprick test: This test detects the ability to feel pain.
- Neurometer test: This test detects dysfunction of the peripheral nerves.
Treatment for Charcot Foot Deformity
Early treatment helps in preventing the damage and deformity caused by the condition. The treatment measures include:
- Immobilization: Your doctor will instruct you to avoid exerting pressure on the foot and keep it immobilized. You will be provided with a cast, crutches, or wheelchair to rest your foot until symptoms improve.
- Bracing and custom shoes: After your foot has healed, you will be placed in a brace or splint to maintain proper bone alignment for several months after which you will be provided with custom shoes with special inserts to protect your feet and prevent the formation of ulcers.
- Realignment bone surgery: This is also known as a reconstructive osteotomy. Your doctor shortens or lengthens the bone so that it alters the alignment to better support the joints.
- Ankle fusion: Your doctor will insert screws and rods to lock the joint and restrict the movement of the ankle.
- Prosthetic fitting: The severely damaged part of the foot is removed and a prosthetic device will be fitted.
Prevention from Charcot Foot Deformity
Prevention from Charcot foot deformity includes:
- Keeping diabetes under control
- Avoiding damage to the feet
- Avoid alcohol and drug abuse
- Daily checking of feet for signs of injury