23 Jul Detection and Therapy for Charcot Foot for Everyone to Know
Charcot foot is a condition that affects the joints, bones, ligaments, and other soft tissues of the foot and ankle. These bones become weak and can break easily and the joints may become unstable that a dislocation in the ankle and/or foot may occur.
Deformity of the foot can result in the formation of sores and any open wounds on the affected area can become infected, septic, and lead to an amputation of the limb.
Charcot foot develops as a result of peripheral neuropathy of the lower limbs which is the term used to describe a condition where there is decreased sensation in the lower legs and feet due to a poor blood supply and injury to these nerves.
Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by:
- Diabetes, which is the most common cause of this problem. Charcot foot is a major complication of diabetes and is thus referred to as a diabetic arthropathy.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Spinal cord and nerve root disease.
- Excessive use of alcohol and/or drugs.
- Parkinson’s disease.
Charcot foot is mainly diagnosed clinically by taking an appropriate history of the patient and examining the affected foot. In the early stages of the condition, it may be difficult to make the diagnosis, especially when X-rays and blood tests are normal.
Charcot foot can be suspected though in patients who:
- Are diabetic.
- Have signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
- Complain of a red, warm, and swollen foot where there is no ulcer present.
- Have an increased skin temperature in the affected foot as compared to the other one.
There are three main goals when treating a patient with Charcot foot and these are:
- Taking weight off of the affected foot.
- Managing any bone and soft tissue disease of the ankle and/or foot.
- Preventing new fractures of the foot.
These goals are pursued in the following manner:
- Offloading the foot by applying a cast which needs to be worn for eight to 12 weeks or until the redness, warmth, and swelling in the foot has subsided. The patient is given crutches, a knee walker, or even a wheelchair in order to keep weight off of the affected limb.
- A walking boot is given to the patient to prevent any further injury once the acute swelling has reduced.
- A change in everyday physical activities may be recommended to patients in order to avoid further trauma to the feet.
- Educating patients about preventive foot care and what danger signs to look out for.
Surgical intervention will only be recommended in the following patients:
- Those who develop severe ankle and foot deformities which lead to instability of the limb.
- Those who have a foot ulcer present.
- Those who have such a severe foot and/or ankle deformity that it makes wearing orthotic devices and braces difficult.
All patients who are diagnosed with Charcot foot must dedicate themselves to wearing protective footwear and making sure to take extremely good care of their feet for the rest of their lives.