Charcot foot is a progressive degenerative condition that affects the joints in the feet. It is associated with nerve damage (neuropathy) that decreases the ability to sense stimuli, including pain, and decreases muscular reflexes that control movement. As a result, the joints in the feet are subjected to repeated trauma and injury, causing progressive damage to the ligaments, cartilage, and bones.
Charcot foot affects the metatarsal, tarsometatarsal, and tarsal joints, which are located in the forefoot and midfoot.
Charcot foot occurs most often in people with diabetes mellitus. It occurs at the same rate in men and women and develops in both feet in approximately 20% of cases.
According to the American Diabetes Association, 60–70% of people with diabetes develop peripheral nerve damage that can lead to Charcot foot and about 0.5% of these patients develop the condition. In most cases, onset occurs after the age of 50, and after the patient has had diabetes for 15 to 20 years.