Charcot foot is a progressive disease that can affect your life in many ways.
This condition is common in diabetic patients and affects millions of people around the world. As the condition progresses, simple activities like walking can become challenging and dangerous. If you notice an ulceration forming on the bottom of your foot, you should contact a foot and ankle specialist immediately. Charcot’s Foot is classified as a neuropathic disease (nerve damage) condition in the foot. As Charcot’s Foot is a progressive condition, nerve damage and reduced blood flow in the extremities actively weakens the bony structures in the foot and gets worse over time.
As the condition worsens, bone degeneration or even fracture can occur. In most charcot foot patients the nerve damage prevents them from feeling the fracture occur and a (bottom of your foot) lesion or ulcer can begin to form from the pressure of the displaced bone on the skin. Due to poor circulation and constant irritation, the ulcers tend to not heal properly and a wound on the bottom of your foot can begin to form and the patient runs the risk of developing infections. While this condition is severe, the options for reconstructive surgery offer a solution.
Charcot’s foot is common with patients with diabetes. In the beginning stages of this condition, the patient may experience numbness, swelling and the foot may be warm to the touch. As the condition worsens the patient may experience increased numbness and some skin discoloration. In the late stages of Charcot’s Foot, the patient has a collapsed arch (as seen above) and potentially, a skin lesion or ulcer on the bottom of their foot (as seen on the right). At this point, the internal structure of the foot has deteriorated to the point where surgical intervention is likely a necessity. In the most extreme cases, and if the condition goes uncorrected, the patient may require an amputation below the knee.
Early detection has been proven to not only improve the patients quality of life, but also provides the experienced foot and ankle surgeon the opportunity to correct the damaged foot by using advanced surgical techniques like circular external fixation.