What Is Charcot Foot?

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By kevin
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. Kaynak, Gökhan et al. “An overview of the Charcot foot pathophysiology.” Diabetic Foot and Ankle vol. 4 (2013): 10.3402/dfa.v4i0.21117.
  • 2. Roberts, Lee C. et al. “The Charcot Foot in Diabetes.” Diabetes Care, vol. 34(9) (2011): 2123-2129.https://doi.org/10.2337/dc11-0844
  • 3. Shah, Mrugeshkumar et al. “Charcot Arthropathy.” Medscape Drugs and Diseases (2020): https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1234293-overview
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Also called Charcot arthropathy or neuropathic joint, Charcot foot is a potentially debilitating deformity of the foot in which the plantar arch collapses and bows outward into what is known as a rocker-foot. Patients with this condition walk with difficulty but may experience relatively little pain due to pre-existing numbness in the feet.3Shah, Mrugeshkumar et al. “Charcot Arthropathy.” Medscape Drugs and Diseases (2020): https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1234293-overview

The condition gets its name from the French neurologist, Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-1893), who first described it.1Kaynak, Gökhan et al. “An overview of the Charcot foot pathophysiology.” Diabetic Foot and Ankle vol. 4 (2013): 10.3402/dfa.v4i0.21117. It is most often associated with diabetes, but anyone experiencing nerve damage to the extremities is potentially at risk. Here are 10 important facts to know about Charcot foot.

1. Causes

Once thought to be caused by syphilis, Charcot foot is most widespread among diabetics in the United States3Shah, Mrugeshkumar et al. “Charcot Arthropathy.” Medscape Drugs and Diseases (2020): https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1234293-overview and people with leprosy in regions with large indigenous populations.1Kaynak, Gökhan et al. “An overview of the Charcot foot pathophysiology.” Diabetic Foot and Ankle vol. 4 (2013): 10.3402/dfa.v4i0.21117. However, a variety of conditions resulting in neuropathy also can cause the condition, including nerve injuries, infections, steroid use, and heavy metal poisoning.1Kaynak, Gökhan et al. “An overview of the Charcot foot pathophysiology.” Diabetic Foot and Ankle vol. 4 (2013): 10.3402/dfa.v4i0.21117.

Because those with neuropathy have a diminished sense of pain in the feet, they are vulnerable to traumatic injuries in that area. For example, they may sprain an ankle or step on a nail without realizing it. Tissue damage can then lead to severe inflammation,2Roberts, Lee C. et al. “The Charcot Foot in Diabetes.” Diabetes Care, vol. 34(9) (2011): 2123-2129.https://doi.org/10.2337/dc11-0844 and the inflammation to loss of bone tissue and eventual fractures.3Shah, Mrugeshkumar et al. “Charcot Arthropathy.” Medscape Drugs and Diseases (2020): https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1234293-overview

Charcot Foot

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