Charcot foot is a deformity that can result as a complication of diabetes and other conditions. It develops after you lose sensation in your legs and feet. The joints and bones of your foot begin to break down and collapse. You cannot feel these injuries, and you may continue to walk on the foot. This worsens the damage. Charcot foot is a disabling deformity. It can be difficult to treat, but there are techniques that can be used to correct it.
Charcot foot is easiest to treat in its early stages. Your doctor can manage the early symptoms with a cast or a boot. You may stay off the foot until it begins to heal. Over time, the fractured bones will fuse back together. The entire healing process can take months, and during this time you may need a series of casts as the shape of your foot changes.
In its later stages, Charcot foot may require surgery. In some cases, this may be as simple as removing a portion of bone that has shifted out of position and created a bump or a lesion in your skin. But if the bones of your foot are unstable, removing a piece of bone will not fix the problem. Your surgeon can use a combination of plates and screws or other devices to realign the bones and hold them in the correct position. You may also benefit from an ankle fusion procedure.
Another treatment option is called "external fixation." With this technique, a frame made of three large metal rings is attached to your foot with pins that go through your skin and into the bones. The frame surrounds your foot. It holds your bones in the correct position so they can heal. External fixation may be combined with other surgical treatments, depending on your needs.
The ultimate goal of any treatment is to realign your foot to prevent any further breakdowns. Once your foot is stable, you may need to wear a special shoe or a brace to prevent a recurrence.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.