While there are many genetic mutations associated with Charcot Foot, treatment options are available. Talk with your doctor to determine if and what type of Charcot Foot you might have.
How common is Charcot Foot?
According to Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy, Charcot Foot affects approximately 1 in every 2,500 Americans, totaling roughly 125,000 people. Over time, it can cause painful sores and change the shape of your foot.
What causes it?
Mutations in the genes that control the structure and function of the nerves outside your brain and spinal cord, called your peripheral nerves, cause Charcot Foot. As it progresses, the nerves degenerate and lose the ability to communicate, leading to muscle weakness and atrophy, as well as a reduced ability to feel cold, heat, and pain.
What’s the impact?
There are five main types of hereditary Charcot Foot. Some affect the fatty covering over your nerves, called myelin, that protects and helps cells transmit impulses. Others directly affect your nerves, causing muscle weakness and atrophy.
Ultimately, they all result is the same types of outcomes. Charcot Foot can be prompted by an injury that isn’t treated in a timely fashion, leading your arch to drop below your toes to create a “rocker bottom.” Your foot can become reddish, warm to the touch, or swollen. Additionally, your toes can curl, and your ankle can twist. The misshapen bones can press against your shoes to create sores and ulcers that can get infected and potentially lead to amputation.
Be sure to work with an orthopedist, podiatrist, or foot center that specializes in diabetes care to manage your Charcot Foot.
How can you treat it?
Even though you may not be able to stop all symptoms associated with Charcot Foot, you can treat it. Follow these steps to minimize the impact.
- Get regular check-ups with a foot doctor who has experience treating diabetic foot problems.
- Check your feet daily for swelling, redness, warm spots, and sores. Check between your toes, too.
- Wash your feet daily, and dry them thoroughly.
- Always wear socks and shoes.
- Keep your blood sugar levels under control — between 80-130 mg/dL before eating, under 180 mg/dL after.
- Take extra care to avoid injury, particularly while exercising.
- Strictly immobilize your foot or ankle with a cast if recommended by your doctor.
- Practice non-weight bearing measure to alleviate stress on your foot.
For more information about hereditary Charcot Foot, contact the Amputation Prevention Centers of America.