Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Orthopedic Teaching

Foot Case 6 Background

Charcot Foot


Background

Charcot arthropathy is a chronic, progressive, destructive arthropathy seen in neurologic disorders such as tabes dorsalis, diabetes mellitus with peripheral neuropathy, and syringomyelia. A combination of lack of sensation and repetitive untreated traumatic injuries lead to bone resorption followed by a hypertrophic repair phase. Involvement of the foot is characterized by collapse of the arch and midfoot and formation of new bony prominences. Untreated occult injuries lead to instability, stress fractures, joint destruction, ulceration, and ultimately collapse of the midfoot and arch.

This neuroarthropathy affects 1/700 diabetics. 20% are bilateral.