Diabetic Foot Conditions: Charcot Foot Collapse

Updated 8/21/2018
We explain why charcot foot diagnosis and proper treatment is critical.

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.

In extreme cases, a blister can quickly develop into a serious infection.

 

University Foot and Ankle Institute is nationally recognized as a center of excellence for the treatment of diabetic foot conditions.

Our doctors have decades of combine experience and understand the special circumstances involved with treating the feet of diabetics.

What Causes Charcot Foot?

Charcot Foot

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

 

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 for Diabetic Charcot Foot

Diabetic Foot Inspection, University Foot and Ankle Institute
Diabetics should carefully inspect their feet for cuts or injuries every day.

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.

Read more about charcot foot braces here.

Charcot Foot Surgery

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 ilizarov 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.

Charcot Foot 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.

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