Charcot Foot Surgery: A Solution Other Than Amputation - MCR Health

Charcot Foot Surgery: A Solution Other Than Amputation

Do your feet ache after a long day? Does your partner have to rub your feet? You could be suffering from a foot condition and not know it.

One of the most devastating foot conditions people experience is Charcot foot. This painful condition affects millions of Americans each year. Thankfully help is available.

In this article, we’ll define Charcot Foot while discussing its symptoms and treatment.

What Is Charcot Foot

Just like any other condition, there is a progression of stages with Charcot Foot. That’s why identifying and treating the condition early can reduce possible complications.

If left untreated, Charcot foot can lead to severe complications. These complications can be characterized by joint dislocations, pathologic fractures, debilitating deformities, and more. The condition can also lead to a below-knee or above-knee amputation and even death.

Healthline has broken Charcot Foot down into a few stages detailing what happens at each stage:

Stage One – Fragmentation and Destruction: soft tissue swelling and small bone fractures occur, the result being the destruction of the joints and surrounding bone.

Stage Two – Coalescence: The body attempts to heal first stage damage while destruction of the joints and bones slows down.

Stage Three – Reconstruction: [The feet] do not go back to their original condition or shape on their own. While no further damage is being done to the foot, it is often left in a deformed, unstable condition.

Catching Charcot Foot early can provide the best possible chances of recovery. Research has shown possible causes and triggers that could give insight to the condition.

Causes of Charcot Foot

Thankfully, we now know there are two primary causes of Charcot foot: diabetes and genetics.

The University of California San Francisco’s Department of Surgery describes Charcot Foot as a “severe complication of diabetes […] caused by peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage).” This means patients with diabetes should be mindful of the possible development of the condition.

However, even those who don’t suffer from diabetes should be cautious. According to the Amputation Prevention Centers of America, Charcot Foot is often hereditary,  meaning that patients don’t need to have diabetes in order to develop Charcot Foot.

In either case, caution is advised for anyone who might be experiencing symptoms of the condition. Additional research also suggests there could be other triggers for Charcot Foot.

WebMD has found that other conditions could cause Charcot Foot to appear in some patients:

  • Alcohol or drug use
  • An infection
  • Spinal cord disease or injury
  • HIV
  • Syphilis

While understanding potential risk factors can help patients keep Charcot Foot on their radars, understanding the symptoms of the condition can be just as helpful.

Symptoms

While typical foot and ankle pain may indicate Charcot Foot, there are other symptoms that could suggest this condition as well: 

  • Pain in the foot/ankle
  • Discomfort
  • Swelling 
  • Deformities
  • Warm to the touch
  • Redness

Although Charcot Foot has many symptoms, which help providers identify the condition, a definitive diagnosis can only be made with X-rays. Results could show issues from the heel bone to the ball of the foot.

These will show significant joint degeneration with dislocations and pathological fractures. Moreover, X-rays can give providers the information necessary to offer the best form of treatment for patients with Charcot Foot.

Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, the patient may select their preferred treatment. These days, many patients find relief in the option of surgical treatment.

Charcot Surgery

Although it may seem intimidating, surgical procedures can be quite effective from Charcot Foot.

According to Wounds Research, “[Choosing surgical treatment] depends on the severity of the problem and degree of deformity present, presence or absence of ulceration and/or infection, duration of the Charcot process, and history of previous treatment.”

When a patient proves an eligible candidate for Charcot Foot Surgery, they have a lot to look forward to.

Recently, Loyola Medicine found that “nearly four out of five diabetic patients with severe Charcot Foot were able to walk normally again” after receiving this type of foot surgery treatment. Recovery is not just possible–it has become quite normal for patients who undergo surgery to treat Charcot Foot.

Modern medicine has allowed recovery to be possible, but also understand how to lower the possibility of developing Charcot Foot.

Prevention

Taking care of the body is a full-time job. Thankfully, there are a few simple hacks WebMD has outlined:

  • Get regular checkups with a doctor who treats feet or diabetic foot problems.
  • Check your feet carefully every day. Look for swelling, redness, warm spots, or sores. Check between your toes, too.
  • Wash your feet every day.
  • Always wear socks and shoes.

These recommendations can help lower the chance of Charcot Foot being an issue in life. Even if Charcot Foot is already present there is hope.

Conclusion

Sadly, since Charcot Foot is such a difficult condition to treat, many surgeons avoid it altogether. But at MCR Health, we offer patients the opportunity for treatment and recovery.

MCR’s Health’s highly trained foot and ankle surgeons are some of the very few local providers who take on this condition with surgical treatment. This is why they are more than equipped to treat patients suffering from Charcot Foot.

If you are suffering from this painful condition or the symptoms of it, listen to your body, and get the help you need. Take the first step towards recovery by scheduling an appointment with one of our podiatrists today.

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