Charcot foot, also called Charcot arthropathy, is a deformity of the feet caused by nerve damage. The disorder begins with inflammation, swelling, and redness in the foot or ankle. The inflammation stems from nerve damage (neuropathy) associated with diabetes, which is at epidemic proportions in the U.S. and the rest of the world.
Diabetes creates two main foot issues. The first is Neuropathy that comes from too much sugar circulating in the blood thereby damaging nerves. Damaged nerves in the feet are particularly problematic because you can’t feel pain, heat, or cold.
The inflammation eventually leads to loss of sensation, and when there is loss of sensation, the bones of the foot and ankle can become dislocated and deformed; fractures can occur as well. A common deformity that occurs with Charcot foot is a collapse of the midfoot area known as “rocker bottom” foot.
The overall loss of sensation causes repeated micro-injuries to the foot. As more injuries occur, the weight-bearing joint breaks down. As the Charcot problem worsens, you may feel pain, but often there is no pain. In the absence of pain, the person continues walking on the foot, which in turn causes further damage. The joint becomes more unstable as the joint degenerates. The damaged joints begin to collapse under pressure. You can experience joint effusion (the escape of fluid from the joint). At its worst, bone starts to resorb, weakening the joint and leaving you more susceptible to fracture.
As neuropathy gets worse, Charcot foot gets worse as well. It is a progressive musculoskeletal problem that leads to more and more destruction of the soft tissue and bone in the weight-bearing joints of the ankle and foot.
Because Charcot foot is a progressive condition, the Social Security Administration (SSA) does consider disability claims for it. The administration’s Blue Book is a listing of disability categories, and Charcot foot falls under listing of major joint dysfunction. Interestingly, for this listing, you are not required to distinguish the cause of your Charcot foot. SSA will consider the disorder regardless of its cause.
Most often, it is a complication of diabetes, but it is possible to have Charcot foot without the neuropathy of diabetes. Any condition that creates a neuropathy can result in Charcot foot. Common causes are spinal cord injury, kidney dialysis, and chronic alcoholism.
For SSA to consider your disability claim, your Charcot foot must be disabling enough to keep you from working. You must link your Charcot diagnosis directly to your inability to remain gainfully employed.
You’ll need to provide a doctor’s diagnosis and any medical tests your doctor performed to determine the specific diagnosis. Most often, doctors do an x-ray or MRI to diagnose. You must demonstrate that you’ve followed your doctor’s treatment orders. Failure to follow a treatment plan is one of the main reasons the SSA will deny benefits. Usually, with Charcot foot, doctors recommend immobilization or wearing a protective boot. They might prescribe medication and in extreme cases, surgery might be recommended.
Many people find the process of applying for Social Security disability benefits time-consuming, tedious, difficult, confusing, and don’t forget frustrating! Filing an initial claim can be difficult enough but filing an appeal can be even more frustrating. Give Clauson Law a call today. One of our disability attorneys will help you with your paperwork and get your claim filed on time.