Foot & Ankle Surgery located in Fort Worth and Weatherford, TX

Recognizing the 3 Stages of Charcot Foot

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Recognizing the 3 Stages of Charcot Foot

There are many ways you can hurt your foot or ankle, but conditions like charcot foot are mainly caused by other seemingly unrelated conditions that can have long term effects on your mobility. Read on to find out more.

We’ve all had a day where your foot or ankle hurt from too much activity, taking a misstep, or some other common hazard, but there are several different ways you damage your feet unrelated to walking or running. Underlying conditions, like diabetes, drug and alcohol abuse, and other forms of infection, trauma, or nerve damage can create long term problems for your feet and ankles.

Charcot foot, also known as neuropathic osteoarthropathy, is one of the ways your feet and ankles can be damaged from other types of harm than from acute injury. This is a condition that damages soft tissue, bone, and joints in both your ankle and feet, and can severely limit your mobility. 

If you live in the Fort Worth or Wetherford, Texas areas, and you’re dealing with the effects of charcot foot or other conditions hurting your feet and ankles, Drs. Gary Driver, Glen Beede, Gregory Jaryga, and the experienced medical team at Trinity Ankle & Foot Specialists can help.

Understanding charcot foot

This inflammatory process weakens bones and joints in ankles and feet, making them more likely to suffer dislocation, fractures, and breaks. If it progresses to its later stages, the condition can cause deformities in the foot which can limit mobility, cause pressure sores and open wounds, and lead to infection and amputation. It develops in people who are dealing with peripheral neuropathy, where the nerves in the lower legs and feet have been damaged and leads to a loss of sensation in those areas. 

Causes of charcot foot

The rare form of peripheral neuropathy that leads to this condition can be caused by several illnesses that affect your nerves, including diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, leprosy (Hansen’s disease), polio, syphilis, HIV, alcohol and drug abuse, and various infections, inflammatory conditions, trauma, or other forms of nerve damage. Frequently it is a rare complication of diabetes, but any of these other conditions can cause it.

Stages of development

The symptoms of this ailment vary depending on what stage of it you’re enduring. The progression of charcot foot works like this:

1st Stage: Fragmentation

In the acute, initial stage you experience swelling and redness in your foot and ankle, which may feel warm to the touch. While this is happening, small fractures are starting to occur because the joints and surrounding bone are being destroyed internally.

Your feet may get flatter as a result of this first stage, and left untreated, this can last for up to a year. This is the point where you can be treated and suffer the least amount of physical deformity, so if you’re experiencing these symptoms, get help as soon as possible.

2nd Stage: Coalescence

At this point, your body is trying to mend the damage done in the initial stage, but it can’t restore it to its previous shape. The aforementioned damage slows considerably, and the symptoms will be reduced.

3rd Stage: Reconstruction

At this point, the foot heals, but because of the damage done in the previous stages, it is shaped differently and in its unstable, deformed condition is more prone to sores, ulcers, and more deformity.

The treatment options for this condition will depend on where you are in the development of charcot foot, but we do have ways of helping you manage it. Wherever you are in the stages of charcot foot, we can help, so make an appointment with Drs. Driver, Beede, Jaryga, and the medical team at Trinity Foot & Ankle Specialists today to start the road to recovery.