Charcot Foot (Arthropathy)

Charcot foot is the deteriation of the foot’s structural integrity as a result of injuries incured following nerve damage. The nerve damage may cause minor pain, followed by the loss of sensation and an increased risk of injury to the feet. When the foot is repeatedly injured, the weight-bearing joints weaken. Charcot foot is a serious condition that can lead to severe deformity, disability, and even amputation.

If you can’t get your regular shoes on, or if you have any changes in foot shape, stay off that foot, and report it to your doctor immediately. If you continue to walk on a foot with Charcot’s joint, you will make it worse and the foot’s structure may breakdown fairly quickly.


Charcot foot most often results from nerve damage in the foot or ankle caused by diabetes. It may develop as a result of neuropathy, which decreases sensation and the ability to feel temperature, pain and trauma. Because of diminished sensations, the patient may continue to walk, making the injury worse. In addition, neuropathic patients with a tight Achilles tendon have a tendency to develop Charcot foot.


The symptoms of Charcot foot may include:

  • Warm to the touch (the affected foot feels warmer than the other)
  • Redness in the foot
  • Swelling in the area
  • Pain or soreness

A skin sore or infection may be present. Later, the foot becomes unstable and deformed.

Potential Treatments

Early detection and treatment of the condition can prevent deformity and loss of function as well as possible amputation. One way to treat Charcot’s foot is to immobilize the foot in a cast or special boot, and resting so it can heal. Sometimes surgery may be needed to realign the joints within the foot.

Disclaimer: The Relief Institute has made reasonable efforts to present accurate information on this website; however, it is possible that information found on this website could potentially be out-of-date or limited in nature. Any medical and health-related information presented on this website is general in nature. The Relief Institute does not furnish or render professional health care services or medical care. Therefore, the information presented on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor is it intended to provide you with a specific diagnosis or treatment for a specific ailment. The information is made available to you for educational and informational purposes and does not constitute the practice of medicine and/or as a substitute for consultation with your personal health care provider. Click here to view our full disclaimer.