Charcot Neuroarthropathy

Charcot neuroarthropathy is a dynamic process which can be caused by a known or unknown traumatic injury. There is typically abnormal bone and joint loading leading to eventual deterioration, fracture and deformity of your foot or ankle. You may notice your foot begin to change and develop a “rocker bottom” like shape. Diabetic, neuropathic patients are at considerably higher risk of developing this disorder (1-10% of patients in the diabetic population). Charcot neuroarthropathy continues to be a destructive disorder to the diabetic population, and a challenging issue for foot and ankle surgeons. Neuroarthropathic changes affects both feet or ankles in as high as 75% of Charcot patients.

We like to depict what Charcot does to patient’s bones as leaving a cardboard box out in the rain. It originally starts with form, structure and support but quickly turns into wet cardboard that loses all these qualities. Some symptoms that often show up in the early stages of Charcot include increased warmth, redness, swelling, pain, deformity, and ulcerations. Diagnosis typically starts with X-rays and a thorough history and clinical evaluation. If you are diabetic, it is helpful to know your latest hemoglobin A1c level and how controlled your diabetes is. It is imperative to present to a Foot and Ankle Specialists as soon as possible and follow the recommended treatment regimen. There is significant risk for life-changing events such as loss of life or amputation. If you suspect that you have an open wound, infection or may be suffering from Charcot, we recommend you contact a specialist and seek medical evaluation as soon as possible.

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