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Nonsurgical Treatment for Charcot Foot

Doctors at NYU Langone recommend nonsurgical treatment if the damage associated with Charcot foot is limited to small fractures that don’t compromise the stability of the foot. Keeping the affected foot immobilized allows the bones to heal. Later on, using customized shoe inserts can redistribute weight across the foot and prevent further damage to the bones and joints.

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Custom Orthotic Inserts

Orthotics, or shoe inserts, help redistribute the weight of your body across the bones and joints of your foot while you walk. These inserts are firm but soft and may contain foam or gel to support your foot and make walking more comfortable.

At NYU Langone, podiatrists can custom-fit an orthotic insert for you. Wearing it regularly can prevent further damage or deformity to the bones and joints of the foot. An orthotic insert also helps prevent ulcers from forming as a result of poor alignment.

If a shoe insert isn’t sufficient to relieve pressure from the injured foot, our foot specialists can custom-fit a special boot. This boot fits over your foot and ankle and shifts weight away from the injury, allowing the bones to heal. If an ulcer has formed, doctors may add soft, donut-shaped padding around the ulcer, relieving pressure.

Our specialists take a mold of your foot to ensure that the custom orthotic insert or boot fits you well and is comfortable to wear. It takes about two weeks for the device to be made, at which time your doctor schedules an appointment to show you how to use it.

Braces, Splints, and Casting

Doctors often recommend immobilization of the affected foot to ensure that a fracture or dislocation heals. A brace, splint, or cast, which is applied to the foot and sometimes the leg, prevents the bones of the foot from moving while they heal.

Your doctor determines which device is appropriate based on the results of a diagnostic evaluation. He or she may also provide you with crutches or a wheelchair so you can keep weight off the foot.

The length of time you need to use these devices varies depending on the extent of damage to the bones of the foot.

People with Charcot foot often have diabetes, which can lead to a reduction in blood flow in the legs and feet. This can slow the rate of healing, requiring that the person wear a cast for several months, followed by the long-term use of foot padding or orthotic shoe inserts.

Your doctor may use X-rays or MRI scans during follow-up visits to monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

Our Research and Education in Charcot Foot

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.