Charcot’s Arthropathy – Neuropathic Foot

Charcot Arthropathy, commonly known as Charcot foot and ankle, is a syndrome in patients who suffer from neuropathy or loss of sensation. It involves fractures and dislocation of bones and joints that often occur with minimal or without any trauma.

What is Charcot’s Arthropathy?

This is a condition caused due to a complication of diabetic neuropathy. The foot bones become weak and fracture even without a major trauma. Because of the neuropathy, the patient may notice a little pain on the foot but ignores it and continues to walk on the foot.

More fractures result into major foot deformities like intractable ulceration which may cause the need for an amputation. Therefore, diagnosis at this early stage will help you to get medical intervention at the acute stage of the condition and this will alleviate further deformities and other associated morbidities.

Diabetes and Charcot’s Arthropathy

People with both type I and type II diabetes can be affected by Charcot’s Arthropathy. In most cases, only one foot is affected. However, over a period of years, the condition can affect both feet. Usually, diabetes is long-standing with the presence of diabetic neuropathy which is quite severe.

One of the symptoms is, the foot becomes warm and swollen suddenly. At this stage, the patient fails to recall having undergone a trauma, or if any, it was minor.


The first step to the diagnosis of this condition is a feeling of disproportionate pain on the foot. Then, the pain recovers quite slowly. The swelling may also take time to disappear.

At this stage, the X-ray may show normal results or a hairline fracture. It may also show gross bone destruction.


The primary goal of treatment at the acute stage is to prevent further deformity and destruction of the bones. It is therefore necessary to immobilise the patient or prevent him or her from walking using the affected foot to give the bones a chance to heal. Currently, the best treatment procedure is using a CAM walker to preserve the foot shape by keeping it in a constant position, and to relieve pressure.

If the deformity is dealt with early enough, the patient may avoid gross deformity. The patient can also avoid specialist footwear to evade the danger of ulceration.

Untreated Charcot’s Arthropathy

If the patient does not take the step of seeing a podiatrist early enough, the deformity may become acute and the foot may also become prone to ulcers. At this stage, treatment is essential and is reliant on special footwear, regular podiatry treatment, and limiting one’s activity level. If intractable ulceration occurs, an amputation may be necessary. Therefore, if the condition is diagnosed at an early or swollen foot stage, it may be easy to treat it and avoid further complications.

Contact us on 03 9077 5915 for further assessment and treatment.