What is a Charcot joint?
Charcot joint is a challenging condition that can affect the joints of the foot and ankle in individuals with peripheral neuropathy– a result of damage to the peripheral nerves that often causes weakness, numbness and pain, usually in the hands and feet. The most common cause of peripheral neuropathy is long standing and uncontrolled diabetes mellitus. However, peripheral neuropathy can also occur in individuals with a history of alcohol abuse, prior nerve trauma, spinal injuries (traumatic or congenital), exposure to certain chemical agents, and neurological disorders such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth-Disease.
What are the symptoms of Charcot joint?
Charcot joint is a challenging diagnosis since it presents similar to other more common diagnoses such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), cellulitis, and osteomyelitis (bone infection). Therefore, it is important for an individual with a history of diabetes or peripheral neuropathy to be evaluated by a foot and ankle specialist to rule out the possibility of a Charcot joint. The condition typically presents as a red, hot swollen foot that may or may not be painful. The swelling may persist despite the patient having no history of trauma. Walking may become difficult for patients as they experience instability in the foot.
How is Charcot joint treated?
Once an accurate diagnosis of a Charcot joint has been made, it is then important to stay off of the affected extremity. The gold standard treatment is to offload the affected limb in a total contact cast or walking boot. Once the redness subsides and the swelling has decreased, the foot and ankle surgeon may recommend specialty shoes. If there is a significant foot deformity that makes the foot unstable, then surgery may be required.
Why choose the International Center for Limb Lengthening to treat Charcot joints?
The International Center for Limb Lengthening’s foot and ankle surgeons offer our patients the most comprehensive treatment possible as our doctors specialize in both podiatric and orthopedic medicine. With a collective experience of over thirty years of helping patients with lower leg, foot and ankle problems, the Foot and Ankle Service of the Rubin Institute is one of the leading treatment centers for foot and ankle conditions in the United States. Your doctor will take the time to make sure you understand all of your options and then will customize your treatment to meet your specific needs. Our patients benefit from our team-centered approach with world-renowned surgeons and specialized physician assistants, nurses and physical therapists. We help patients with Charcot joints achieve their best possible result.