What is Charcot arthropathy?

Updated: Mar 23, 2020
  • Author: Mrugeshkumar Shah, MD, MPH, MS; Chief Editor: Vinod K Panchbhavi, MD, FACS, FAOA, FABOS, FAAOS  more...
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Also called Charcot joint or neuropathic joint, Charcot arthropathy is a progressive condition of the musculoskeletal system that is characterized by joint dislocations, pathologic fractures, and debilitating deformities. Syphilis was believed to be the most common cause of Charcot arthropathy until 1936, when Jordan linked it to diabetes. [1, 2] Diabetes is now considered to be the most common etiology of Charcot arthropathy.

Charcot arthropathy results in progressive destruction of bone and soft tissues at weightbearing joints; in its most severe form, it may cause significant disruption of the bony architecture. Charcot arthropathy can occur at any joint; however, it occurs most commonly in the lower extremity, at the foot and ankle.

For patient education resources, see the Diabetes CenterSexually Transmitted Diseases Center, and Foot, Ankle, Knee, and Hip Center, as well as Diabetic Foot Care and Syphilis.

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