Charcot neuropathic osteoarthropathy (CN), commonly referred to as the Charcot foot, is a condition affecting the bones, joints, and soft tissues of the foot and ankle, characterized by inflammation in the earliest phase. The Charcot foot has been documented to occur as a consequence of various peripheral neuropathies; however, diabetic neuropathy has become the most common etiology. The interaction of several component factors (diabetes, sensory-motor neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, trauma, and metabolic abnormalities of bone) results in an acute localized inflammatory condition that may lead to varying degrees and patterns of bone destruction, subluxation, dislocation, and deformity. The hallmark deformity associated with this condition is midfoot collapse, described as a “rocker-bottom” foot (Fig. 1), although the condition appears in other joints and with other presentations. Pain or discomfort may be a feature of this disorder at the active (acute) stage, but the level of pain may be significantly diminished when compared with individuals with normal sensation and equivalent degrees of injury.
Definition and classification recommendations
- Nomenclature should be standardized to CN or the Charcot foot.
- Existing classifications do not provide prognostic value or direct treatment. Active or inactive should be used to describe an inflamed or stable CN, respectively. Acute and chronic can also be used in this regard, but there is no accepted measure that defines the transition point.