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Diabetic Conditions: Charcot Foot Collapse

What is Charcot Foot?

Charcot Foot


Charcot collapse of the foot and ankle presents its most dramatic and debilitating form with diabetics. This softening of the bones in the foot is most prevalent with diabetics experiencing neuropathy (nerve damage) and poor circulation.


Because of neuropathy, some diabetics can no longer feel when their foot has become irritated or the skin punctured. In extreme cases, a blister can quickly develop into a serious infection.


High glucose levels (diabetes) damage blood vessels, and decrease circulation to the feet. Reduced blood flow weakens bone so people with diabetes are at a high risk for breaking bones in the feet.



From my first visit to the Foot and Ankle Institute in Santa Monica to my last physical therapy session, Dr. Baravarian and his team always took the time to answer all my questions and do everything possible to ensure the best outcome from my surgery. I will definitely be back for surgery on my other foot. Chris
Charcot Foot Treatment Options- University Foot and Ankle Institute

What causes a Charcot Foot deformity?


When a diabetic fractures a bone in the foot, they may not realize it because of nerve damage. If they continue to walk on the injured foot they may experience a severe fracture or joint dislocation. Sharp edges of broken bone within the foot can point downward toward the ground, increasing the risk of chronic foot sores from the abnormal pressure.


This combination of bone disintegration and trauma can warp and deform the shape of the foot. Charcot is one of the most serious foot problems facing diabetics.



Charcot Foot Treatment Options


The most-effective treatment for Charcot foot is to prevent the problem before it occurs. Diabetics should carefully inspect their feet for cuts or injuries every day.


Non-surgical care

Your doctor may suggest keeping all weight off of the deformed foot for a lengthy period of time. In addition to rest, treatment may include wearing a protective splint, walking brace, plaster cast or orthotics.


The doctor may use a special brace (orthosis) to correct and compensate for the bone deformity.


Surgical care

Fractures that occur in the softer bones of diabetics are typically more complex. Charcot foot surgery usually involves more hardware (plates and screws) than would normally be required in non-diabetics. Screws and plates may be placed across normal joints to provide added stability.


If severe deformity or looseness exists, there may be a need to realign or correct the position of the foot. Your surgeon will likely use a Illizarov fixator to realign the foot and allow some weight during the healing period.


It should be noted that this procedure carries a higher risk of wound complications such as infection and amputation when compared to routine foot and ankle fracture surgery.


Post surgery

Healing from this surgery may take several months. In fact, the healing period may be twice as long as a person undergoing non-diabetic foot surgery. Healing from fusion surgery may take six months of protection and orthosis.


Patients who place weight on their foot and fail to follow their doctor’s instruction will likely experience complications. This can involve a return or even a worsening of the deformity.



Why choose University Foot and Ankle Institute for Charcot Foot treatment?


Our experienced, highly trained foot doctors understand the special circumstances involved with treating the feet of diabetics. We employ innovative approaches that help you get quickly back to health, while experiencing as little pain as possible.  



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