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We sought to assess the biomechanical characteristics of the feet of patients with Charcot neuro-osteoarthropathy and to determine reulceration rates before and after personalized conservative orthotic treatment.
A longitudinal prospective study was performed in 35 patients with Charcot's foot. Although some patients had a history of ulcers, at the study outset no patient had ulcers. All of the patients underwent biomechanical testing and a radiographic study. A radiophotopodogram was prepared by superimposing an imprint of the sole on a plantar radiograph. Based on the results of these tests, an orthopedic insole was prepared and therapeutic footwear prescribed for each foot. The following variables were compared between the Charcot and unaffected feet: previous ulcers and ulcer sites, reulcerations produced after treatment, type of foot (neuropathic/neuroischemic), ankle mobility, first-ray mobility, and relaxed calcaneal stance position. Treatment efficacy was determined by comparing ulcers presenting in patients in the year leading up to the study period and the year in which treatment was received.
In a 1-year period, 70 feet received orthotic treatment, of which 41 were Charcot's feet. Ulceration rates before the study were 73.2% in feet with Charcot's and 31.0% in those without. After 1 year of wearing the customized orthoses, rates fell significantly to 9.8% in the Charcot feet and 0% in the feet without this condition.
Conservative customized orthotic treatment was effective at preventing ulcers and the complications that often lead these patients to surgery.