Charcot foot is a disorder that causes weakening of the bones in the foot in individuals who are diabetic and have significant nerve damage (neuropathy).

Charcot foot affects the bones, joints, and soft tissues of the foot or ankle. The weakened bones may fracture, or the joints in the foot or ankle may dislocate. In the early stages, the foot will be red, swollen, and feel warm to the touch. If left untreated, sections of the midfoot collapse, causing a rounded foot bottom (a rocker-bottom foot) deformity.

Diabetes is the most common cause of Charcot foot. However, neuropathy can also be caused by alcohol or drug use, infection, spinal cord and nerve root disease or trauma, Parkinson’s disease, HIV, sarcoidosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis.

Early diagnosis of Charcot foot by Lancaster Orthopedic Group’s foot and ankle team is extremely important in order to prevent more damage and avoid deformity. Taking weight off the foot by casting it helps stop the condition from getting worse.

Custom orthotics can help prevent further injury and ulcers from Charcot foot. Surgery is typically recommended only for patients with severe and unstable ankle and foot deformities, with foot ulcers, or whose deformity makes braces and orthotics difficult to use.