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Baylor, Scott & White Plano

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Charcot Joint Breakdown: Collapsing Your Arches

If the bones in your feet broke suddenly, you would notice. The sharp pain and immediate weakness in your foot would severely impair your ability to walk. If you had a condition that deadened your nerves, however, and the deterioration in your joints happened over a longer period of time, you might not notice the problem until the damage was catastrophic. Charcot joint disease is one of those quiet, sneaky conditions that can wreak havoc on your feet if you aren’t paying attention. If caught and treated early, though, you can prevent it from becoming disabling.

Attacking the Bones

Charcot joint disease occurs along with neuropathy—the loss of sensation in your feet—which most often develops from diabetes, but could be caused by another condition that impairs the nervous system. This destructive disease can begin spontaneously, or may begin with an injury to the foot or ankle. The original injury might even have been too minor to be noticed at the time. However it starts, it causes a breakdown of the cartilage, bone, and connective tissues.

It then progresses until the bones in the foot or ankle fracture or fragment, causing collapsed arches that can develop sores and make it difficult to wear normal shoes. The hallmark signs are a red, hot swollen foot. If you have mysterious, painless swelling in your foot or ankle, accompanied by a grinding sound and warmth or redness, it’s important to see Drs. Joel W. Brook and David R. Northcutt promptly. Ignoring it could lead to a deformed, nearly useless foot, or even amputation.

Realizing the Risks

Because diabetes and some other medical conditions can cause loss of sensation in the feet, you may never have realized your foot suffered an injury to the joints; and because you may have continued your normal activities, it’s possible that you fractured or dislocated bones in your foot or ankle but never felt pain. If you have Charcot disease, X-rays will reveal fragmentation of the bone and abnormal joints. Frequently, patients are also tested for infection or blood clots, as these other conditions can have similar signs and symptoms but result in different problems.

Treatment of Charcot Joint Disease

If your podiatrist diagnoses Charcot disease, the affected joint will need to be immobilized with a brace or cast as it heals. You’ll have to stay completely off your foot to avoid additional damage, so you will need to use crutches or a knee-walker to get around. Your podiatrist will continue to X-ray the area to follow the progress of your healing. As your bones recover, you will gradually be able to place weight on the foot again.

If the condition goes undiagnosed, the affected area may develop a deformity. This could become debilitating and limit your mobility. If this is already true in your case, you may need prescription orthotics or shoes to prevent ulcers and help stabilize your joints. In severe cases, reconstructive surgery may be required to correct the deformity and prevent amputation of the lower limb.

If you or someone you care about are at risk for neuropathy, or already are affected by it, don’t ignore any changes or uncomfortable warming in your feet. You might be developing deterioration from Charcot joint disease. Don’t risk the damage that can result from this condition. Instead, contact Dallas Podiatry Works now for an appointment or more information. You can reach us by visiting the online contact page or by calling one of our two Texas offices: for our Dallas location, call (972) 566-7474; to reach our Plano office, call (972) 943-3323.

RATED BEST DALLAS PODIATRIST FOR YOUR FOOT & ANKLE CARE NEEDS
"I did 3 EPAT treatments and it gave me tremendous relief from my plantar fasciitis. I highly recommend this for anyone who is dealing with PF. Also, the physical therapist Dr. Brook sent me too is fantastic. I am definitely on the mend and so glad I did EPAT."- All H. 5 star
"Dr Northcutt is a fantastic physician. My first surgery with him (although painful), went very well. A couple of issues (with his staff) needed to be corrected, I appreciated his calm and professional demeanor and he corrected those issues promptly. He sets the bar high (the mark of a great physician), and that is the key reason why I'm coming back to him to correct my other foot. I would highly recommend him."- She B. 5 star
"The staff at Dallas Podiatry Works could not have been more courteous, helpful, and professional in doing their job. They made me feel comfortable when I was there, which is certainly appreciated. They answered all the questions that I had and just made each visit the most pleasurable that it could be. I would highly recommend them to anyone needing this type of care."- Joseph B. 5 star
"My experience was a good one from pre-op to post -op. I saw the doctor right before my surgery.He explained the process to me and my husband. The recovery nurse was great. It was neither crowded or chaotic as some day surgery centers. My foot is doing well as I follow instructions. I look forward to my one week progress visit!"- Patricia T.5 star
"I had dealt with a painful foot problem for five months and had seen three different Doctors before seeing an article in D Magazine about Dr. Joel Brook. Dr. Brook took one look at my foot, explained the causes for my pain and set me up on a successful treatment plan. He is very knowledgeable, thorough and exhibits a caring attitude. I highly recommend him."- Ginger W. 5 star
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Join the 50,000 happy feet that have found relief at Dallas Podiatry Works! Our Dallas podiatrist and Plano podiatrist provides 5-star-rated foot care and ankle care. Our advanced foot care includes children's foot care, sports-related foot injuries, stem cell therapy, bunion treatment, bunion removal surgery, toenail fungus treatment, ingrown toenail treatment, hammertoe treatment, claw toe treatment, neuroma treatment, heel pain relief, limb salvage, wound care, arthritis treatment, safe pedicure, medicures, corn removals, callus removals, wart removals and more.
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