Charcot’s Foot

Charcot’s Foot

What is Charcot's Foot?

Charcot’s foot, also known as Charcot neuroarthropathy or Charcot’s joint, is a progressive disorder characterized by the breaking and dislocation of the bones, joints, and soft tissues in the foot and ankle. It is a severe diabetic foot or neuropathic complication of the foot. The condition often results in deformity, instability, and an increased risk of ulcers or infections. It primarily affects individuals with peripheral neuropathy, especially those with diabetes, which can lead to a loss of sensation in the affected area.

Charcot's Foot or Charcot's Neuroarthropathy in Singapore

Causes of Charcot's Foot

The exact cause of Charcot’s foot remains unclear, but it involves a combination of factors, including:

  • Neuropathy: Nerve damage, often from diabetes, reduces sensation and the ability to feel pain or temperature changes in the foot.
  • Trauma: Repeated minor injuries, such as small fractures, can go unnoticed due to neuropathy and may trigger the onset of Charcot’s foot.
  • Inflammation: The body’s inflammatory response to injury can cause further damage to the bones and joints, exacerbating the condition.

    Risk Factors 

    Risk factors for Charcot’s neuroarthropathy include:

    • Diabetes
    • Peripheral neuropathy
    • Alcoholism
    • Spinal cord injuries

      Symptoms and Early Warning Signs

      Early detection of Charcot’s neuroarthropathy is crucial for preventing severe complications. Some common symptoms include:

      • Warmth, redness, and swelling in the foot or ankle
      • Pain or discomfort (some cases are painless)
      • Instability or difficulty walking
      • Deformities, such as a collapsed arch or a rocker-bottom appearance

        If you notice any of these symptoms, particularly if you have diabetes or neuropathy, consult your podiatrist immediately.

        Charcot's Foot X-ray showing fractures and dislocation of the bones and joints.

        Diagnosis

        Charcot’s foot can look identical to typical foot infections, such as cellulitis. Therefore, your medical practitioner or podiatrist will usually conduct a thorough examination and may refer you for various diagnostic scans to confirm the diagnosis, such as:

        • X-rays: To identify bone deformities, fractures, or dislocations
        • MRI scans: To assess soft tissue damage and the extent of the condition
        • Bone scans: To differentiate Charcot’s foot from other conditions, such as infections or tumours

          Charcot's Foot Treatment in Singapore.

          Treatment Options For Charcot's Foot In Singapore

          While there is no cure for Charcot’s foot, early intervention and proper treatment can prevent severe deformities and preserve foot function. Treatment options in Singapore may include:

          • Activity modification: Limiting weight-bearing activities to reduce stress on the foot
          • Immobilization: Using a cast or boot to protect the foot and allow the bones to heal
          • Custom insoles: Special shoe inserts or braces to provide support and redistribute pressure
          • Custom walker boot: Special boot to redistribute pressure for cases with severe deformities
          • Surgery: In severe cases, reconstructive surgery may be necessary to correct deformities and stabilize the foot

            Do You Have A Question? Ask Us...

            FAQ

            While no specific statistics are available for the prevalence of Charcot’s foot in Singapore, the condition is generally more common among individuals with diabetes and peripheral neuropathy. Considering that Singapore has a high prevalence of diabetes, those affected by the disease must be aware of the risks and symptoms associated with Charcot’s neuroarthropathy.

            If left untreated or not appropriately managed, Charcot’s foot can lead to severe deformity, chronic ulcers, infections, and amputation. Early detection and treatment and regular check-ups with a medical professional can significantly reduce the risk of amputation.

            Specialized clinics and hospitals in Singapore have expert podiatrists and orthopaedic surgeons who can diagnose and manage Charcot’s foot. Our podiatrists are highly experienced in managing and preventing complications associated with diabetes, including Charcot’s neuroarthropathy.

            The ability to continue working and participating in daily activities while undergoing treatment for Charcot’s foot depends on the severity of your condition and the treatment you need. Generally, we strongly advise limiting your weight-bearing activities and always using the prescribed devices, cast, or boots to protect your foot. You should only return to normal activities when your medical professionals advise so. Prioritizing your foot’s healing and avoiding activities that could exacerbate the condition or hinder recovery is crucial.

            To reduce the risk of developing Charcot’s foot, individuals with diabetes in Singapore should:

            • Regularly monitor and manage blood sugar levels.
            • Conduct daily self-examinations of the feet for signs of injury or infection.
            • Visit a podiatrist for regular foot health screening and early detection of potential issues.
            • Wear properly fitting, supportive footwear and avoid walking barefoot.
            • Adopt a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular physical activity, to help manage diabetes and reduce the risk of complications.