A Charcot foot is a foot problem that can happen when you have diabetes. The foot may get quite deformed. The problem can be very disabling. It may make it hard or impossible for you to walk. It may lead to severe complications, including foot sores and loss of the foot by amputation. Early treatment can help keep the problem from getting severe.
Charcot foot can happen when you have nerve damage from diabetes (neuropathy). The nerve damage causes a loss of feeling in the foot. You may no longer feel pain, temperature, discomfort, or the position of your foot. It’s easier for the foot to get hurt when you have no feeling in the foot. Because of the loss of feeling, it can be hard for you to know when you are standing or walking abnormally. The muscles and bones in the foot get weak when you don’t use your foot properly. After a while the bones soften and collapse and the foot gets misshapen. You could break a bone in your foot and keep walking on it because you don’t know your foot has been hurt. This damages the foot more and keeps it from healing.
The first symptoms may include:
If you still have some feeling in your foot, your foot may feel sore.
Over time the foot gets misshapen. It may get bad enough that you cannot wear any kind of shoe or even walk on your foot.
Charcot foot can be diagnosed early with X-rays or other scans. As it gets worse, it may be diagnosed just from a physical exam.
The goals of treatment are to prevent fractures, foot and leg sores, and amputation. To protect your foot, you may need to:
Severe cases may require surgery and sometimes amputation. You may need to have your foot removed (amputated) if:
The nerve damage and loss of feeling will not heal or go away. With treatment you may be able to prevent further damage and stay as mobile as is safely possible.
Prevention of nerve damage (neuropathy) is key to preventing Charcot foot. The best way to prevent diabetic nerve damage is to control your diabetes. Try to keep your blood sugar at a normal level.