Charcot foot

In simple terms, Charcot foot causes weakening of the bones in the foot and is most prevalent in people who have significant nerve damage. More specifically, Charcot foot is the term given to neurogenic arthropathy that affects the joints in the foot. Neurogenic arthropathy is a rapidly progressive degenerative arthritis that results from damaged nerves. Nerve damage might be caused by diabetes or other nerve conditions.

When a person has Charcot foot, their ability to sense pain in their foot is usually lost or impaired. Their muscles also lose their ability to support the foot properly. In most cases only one foot is affected. However, both feet can be affected over time.

The bones most often affected in Charcot foot are the tarsals and metatarsals. Charcot foot occurs most often in people with diabetes.

Patients with Charcot foot eventually lose the ability to sense pain and the muscles lose their ability to support the foot correctly.

Charcot foot is named after Jean-Martin Charcot. Jean-Martin Charcot was the first to describe the disintegration of ligaments and joint surfaces caused by disease or injury.

Causes

Some common causes are:

  • chronic hyperglycemia
  • diabetes mellitus

Signs and symptoms 

Complications

Patients with Charcot Foot usually do not notice minor traumas to their feet (eg sprains; strains, stress fractures). The undetected trauma is often untreated and this leads to a slackness of the ligaments, joint dislocation, a bone and cartilage damage, and deformity to the foot.