Charcot foot (neuropathic arthropathy), originally named for French anatomical pathologist and father of modern neurology Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot, is a serious disease indicative of neuropathy or nerve damage. Bones in the foot become readily fractured and feeble caused by damage in the peripheral nervous system that surrounds them. The nerves eventually become too damaged to submit feelings of pain or to properly control muscle movement and nothing is felt within the region. The entire bone structure of the feet experiences injury and collapse.
The Cause of Charcot Foot Disease
Due to the lack of sensation in the nerve endings, mild injuries in the bones of the feet often go undetected. This is accompanied by a poor vascular system that often accompanies diabetes patients. It’s the latter that often leads to neuropathy in the first place.
As the diabetic patient continues to use his/her feet for walking, the foot starts to alter its regular contours. As the arch of the foot fails, a rocker-bottom appearance may ensue and regular walking and mobility soon becomes extremely difficult to manage. Charcot is a very serious degenerative illness, which can result in amputation if not treated promptly.
People who have diabetes are exceptionally susceptible to getting Charcot foot due to their propensity for getting neuropathy as a complication of their illness.
The Symptoms of Charcot Foot
Early symptoms arise as soon as the diabetic patient suffers repeated traumas to their foot, caused by drawn-out walking or from any other high-impact pressure on the feet. Even minor injuries can slowly lead to major traumas.
As soon as Charcot foot is fully activated, the affected region generally begins to feel warmer than the healthy foot. Soon, swelling also becomes very apparent, together with pain and a tender sensation. Joint dislocation is usually apparent upon doing an X ray, which results in showing misaligned bones. Full-blown symptoms occur as the foot abruptly becomes numb and insensitive to any kind of sense.
The attending physician will some background checks and perform the appropriate physical assessments on your foot, while X rays are often done to track the state of the bones. Lab evaluations may also have to be made to determine the seriousness of the disease.
Treatment of Charcot Foot
Generally, the treatment of Charcot foot requires stabilizing the joints so that regular walking can occur once again. Foot restraints as well as casts and crutches can be used for two months to prevent further damage. Extreme cases may require surgery. Other promising treatments for Charcot foot include the use of healthy insoles or orthotics to support the high arch of the foot. More research is needed to find other potential treatments for this serious, debilitating disease.
Primary care surrounding this condition is crucial to preventing debilitating consequences that come with Charcot. Specifically, excellent blood sugar control reduces nerve damage progression in the feet, avoiding injury from strenuous exercise, and assessing both feet daily are vital measures which are sure to ward off this serious complication of diabetes.
Disclaimer: The information contained herein is for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Please consult with your health care provider before implementing any treatment for diabetes.