Is your foot causing you trouble? Have you noticed a change in appearance in the structure of your foot? Then, you need to check if it is Charcot Joint Disease. Also known as neuropathic osteoarthropathy or Neuropathic arthropathy, it is the condition causing the weakening of bones in the foot. The condition is prevalent among people with considerable nerve damage and causes degeneration of the bone (mainly the weight-bearing joint).
The Charcot Joint disease can weaken the bones to the extent of causing fracture or you can experience a change in the shape with continue walking. If you ignore the symptoms and fail to get treatment, then your foot can take on an irregular shape. The rocker-bottom appearance of the foot is the result of overlooking the condition causing distress and discomfort.
So, what happens if you fail to get treatment for the disease at the right time? You need to understand that it is a serious condition leading to disability, deformity or amputation. If you have diseases associated with neuropathy like diabetes, then it is better to adopt the preventive measure to avoid the Charcot Joint disease. It always advised seeking the medical attention in case of appearance of the signs or symptoms of the disease to avoid further complications.
The Need to Identify Symptoms
The Charcot’s foot is a serious condition that can result in severe complication like deformity due to loss of sensation in the foot, bone resorption, or destruction of the bone structure. It is a stealthy disease that creeps on you without any notice. As the worst-case scenario for the disease is death, it is advised to check for the symptoms to eliminate the distress due to morbidity. The peripheral neuropathy takes a long time (like decades) to develop. But, the Charcot Joint disease can occur within a span of a few weeks or months.
· Beginner Symptoms Of Charcot Joint Disease
The initial signs of the disease are;
- Reddish texture
- Feet is warm to touch
- Swollen Foot
Your doctor may prescribe your lab test and X-rays, but the Charcot feet may not appear on it as your tests may show normal levels. Since many other foot problems have the same symptoms, you can get confused. In such cases, it is better to visit a foot specialist also known as Podiatrists to get the right diagnosis. A patient suffering from diabetes is vulnerable to the disease, so finding the right doctor will help with the accurate diagnosis.
· Advanced Disease Symptoms
People suffering from the advanced Charcot Joint Disease have shown signs of deformity of the foot. It is mainly caused due to the joint dislocation and/or joint displacement, fractures, or osteophytes (bone overgrowths). The fractures result in the rocker foot, which refers to the outward bowing arch of the foot and is caused by the collapsing of the tarsal bones. While the osteophytes protrude from the top surface of the foot. It is due to the fact that the human body replaced the bone loss with the new bones. So, the advanced symptoms cause pain, insensitivity in the foot, instability in the joints or dislocation of the joints.
Causes of Charcot Disease
So, now you may wonder what exactly causes the Charcot Joint Disease to develop. The answer is several factors over a period of time can ultimately result in the painful disease that restricts your movement on foot.
· Charcot Disease Due To Neuropathy
The disease is highly common in people in people who have trouble feeling the sensation in their feet and ankle. So, people with the different types of nerve damage are susceptible to the disease like;
- Diabetes Neuropathy: People suffering from diabetes are vulnerable to nerve damage and loss of sensation making them at high-risk of Charcot disease.
- Alcoholic Neuropathy: Neurological disorder in chronic alcoholics causing pain and restriction in the motor movement.
- Cerebral Palsy: It refers to the permanent movement disorders like the lack of coordination, weak muscles, stiff muscles, etc. visible from the childhood.
- Spinal Injury: Injury or harm to the spinal cord causing temporary or permanent damage, which results in the change of its function
· Charcot Disease Due To Infection
An underlying infection can cause the disease as you may not know about the nerve damage. As you keep walking, the problem gets worse due to the loss of calcium from the bones.
- HIV: HIV infection causes AIDS and weakens a person’s immunity to fight diseases.
- Syphilis: The sexually transmitted infection can cause sores and rashes.
- Leprosy: It is the long-term infection due to bacteria that can affect the nerves, skin, eyes, and the respiratory tract.
· Charcot Disease Due To Trauma
The disease is also triggered by trauma as the nerve damage may result in slack ligaments and muscle weakness. It causes the joint dislocation and instability, which causes the bones (misaligned) to grind against each other resulting in pain and restriction of movement.
Once your doctor diagnosis the disease, it is managed via the VIP process.
- Vascular Management
- Infection Management and Prevention
- Pressure Relief
In simple terms, you have two options for getting the Charcot disease treated, which are the non-surgical methods and the surgical methods. Your doctor may advise you the right one depending on your condition and the severity of the disease.
As the name suggests, you can overcome the complications of the disease without undergoing a surgery. It mainly focusses on reliving the pressure from the joints to avoid its destruction. So, the main steps adopted for the process are;
- Immobilization: If you have Charcot disease, then your ankles are fragile in nature and are vulnerable to repair themselves. Keeping the foot safe by using a cast or cast boot will protect your affected foot from further damage. You cannot put weight on the affected foot until the bones heal, which may take up to three months.
- Custom Shoes: The shoes with special inserts will help you to return to your daily activities quickly. It is used after your bones heal and help to prevent ulcers, and recurrence of Charcot’s
- Activity Modification: Your doctor may advise you to modify the daily activity level to avoid the frequent trauma to the feet. As you are vulnerable to get affected by the disease again, you need to maintain caution to avoid the scenario.
The invasive surgery will focus on removing the mild to severe deformity causing the instability of the foot. Screws and plates are placed in some cases to provide stability to the bone structure.
You must have heard that it is better to prevent a disease than going through the pain and then treating it. So, get regular checkups with your doctor specialized in treating feet problems especially if you have diabetes. Look for symptoms like swelling, redness, spots, etc. Take good care of your feet by washing it daily and wearing socks/shoes.
Taking care of your health is important to lead a happy life to the optimum as any pain or discomfort can pull you back. Lead a peaceful and disease-free life by eradicating the health issues as soon as possible.