Anyone who has experienced foot pain knows how much of an impact it can have to everyday life. Foot pain can cause you to avoid the activities you love. Simple things like getting around the house can become challenging.
Foot pain may be caused by injury or an underlying condition. One condition that could be causing your foot pain is Charcot foot. So, what is Charcot foot?
IBJI recently chatted with Dr. Steven Jasonowicz, podiatric foot and ankle surgeon, to answer this question. He discusses the symptoms, causes and treatments—below—and answers frequently asked questions about Charcot foot. Read his story to learn more.
What is Charcot Foot?
Dr. Jasonowicz says that, “Charcot foot is a condition that occurs in patients with neuropathy (a decrease in the normal sensation in the foot) in which the bones of the foot and ankle weaken and fracture. If not caught early there is often collapse and deformity of the foot and ankle bones when patients present to the office or hospital.”
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should have your foot evaluated right away.
- A foot/ankle that is red
- A foot/ankle that is hot
- Swollen foot/ankle
- Foot/ankle has a wound
- Pain in foot/ankle
Charcot Foot FAQ
Does Charcot foot commonly happen in one foot or both?
Dr. Jasonowicz: In the acute phase it usually occurs in one foot at a time but is not uncommon to see chronic charcot changes in the bilateral feet of patients with neuropathy.
Who is susceptible to getting it?
Dr. Jasonowicz: While the exact pathophysiology of Charcot is not completely understood/agreed upon we do know it occurs in those with neuropathy. Neuropathy is most commonly seen in diabetics although there are many causes of neuropathy seen in those without diabetes.
Is it painful?
Dr. Jasonowicz: While it can be painful it is not uncommon to have no pain because of the neuropathy these patients have. It is important that if patients who have neuropathy notice redness, swelling, deformity, wound/ulcer formation or any changes in their feet they seek an expert right away.
Will Charcot foot impede my daily activity?
Dr. Jasonowicz: Again, because of the neuropathy charcot may not be noticed right away and may not impede daily activity until it is at a more advanced stage.
How is it diagnosed?
Dr. Jasonowicz: A combination between clinical symptoms, X-rays, MRI, and sometimes lab tests or a bone biopsy.
Can it be treated?
Dr. Jasonowicz: If caught early enough it may only require immobilization in a fracture boot but treatment can be more extensive like a cast with no weight bearing or sometimes surgery to stabilize the foot with something called an external fixator. If there is deformity after the acute phase, sometimes reconstructive surgery is needed to realign the foot to prevent breakdown in the skin/ulceration.
What are the complications of Charcot foot?
Dr. Jasonowicz: If charcot goes untreated or undiagnosed it often presents initially with significant deformity and maybe a sore/ulceration. If that ulceration becomes infected it can sometimes lead to amputation if the infection is too advanced or spreading.
Does Charcot foot heal with treatment?
Dr. Jasonowicz: Even with reconstructive surgery a charcot foot is typically never a “normal foot.” It may require a special shoe, boot, brace or insert for life.
What is the prognosis for people with Charcot?
Dr. Jasonowicz: This is a tough question to answer, but if caught early the prognosis is good. Those who have deformity and wounds really need to see a doctor with expertise in Charcot as they are at higher risk for complications and ultimate amputation.
No matter the cause of your foot pain, it may be time to check it looked at by an expert. IBJI’s podiatrists can examine, diagnose and treat your foot pain to get you on the path to recovery.
Get Relief from Your Foot and Ankle Pain Today
IBJI’s Podiatrists are here to help provide you with the necessary care for your foot and ankle issues. Get the relief you are seeking with the help of IBJI.
*The blog is for general information and educational purposes only regarding musculoskeletal conditions. The information provided does not constitute the practice of medicine or other healthcare professional services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor-patient relationship is formed. Readers with musculoskeletal conditions should seek the advice of their healthcare professionals without delay for any condition they have. The use of the information is at the reader’s own risk. The content is not intended to replace diagnosis, treatment or medical advice from your treating healthcare professional.
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