Mercy’s Foot Doctors Treat Charcot Foot Disease in Baltimore

Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Mercy - Baltimore

At The Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Mercy in Baltimore, our foot and ankle specialists work with patients who have diabetes to care for their feet, which can become deformed by Charcot disease.

About the Condition

Charcot disease can cause very significant bone deformities. As a result of neuropathy, the nerve supply to bones and joints is not normal. From very minor trauma or prolonged walking, small areas of stress can build up in the bone or in a joint leading to a crack or a stress fracture. This is the same type of stress fracture that the athlete develops. However, the patient with diabetes is unable to perceive the pain from the stress injury and walking is continued. 

The stress crack in the bone now begins to get worse and develops into a fracture. The fracture also gets worse as more walking occurs on the injured foot or ankle. 

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Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

Charcot foot disease symptoms may include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Warmth in the foot

Charcot foot disease can be diagnosed with a physical exam as well as use of radiographs and bone scans.

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Treatment Options

The most important aspect of treatment of Charcot disease is to limit any weight bearing, walking and loading of the foot and ankle until the bone has healed. The goal of treatment is to prevent severe deformities of the foot from occurring and for the patient to be able to wear a shoe without difficulty. 

Continued walking with weight bearing can lead to very significant joint destruction and bone deformities. The treatment depends on the severity of the bone deformity at the time of diagnosis. Some cases require surgery immediately and others can be treated in a boot. The use of a boot or cast is important and no weight should be put on the foot until healing occurs. 

It can take up to a year for the bone to heal and the boot may have to be worn during this healing phase.

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