The neuropathic joint

Clin Exp Rheumatol. 1994 May-Jun;12(3):325-37.


Neuropathic arthritis is a destructive arthropathy frequently associated with loss of proprioception. A third of patients, however, may have no demonstrable neurological deficit. Patients with diabetes, syphilis, syringomyelia and other neuropathies are particularly prone to developing this joint disease. The diagnosis of Charcot's joints should be considered in anyone who develops what appears to be a severe osteoarthritis or a transverse fracture of the tibia or fibula after minor trauma. Scoliosis with particularly destructive changes on radiography should prompt a search for syringomyelia or syphilis. The most common radiographic abnormalities are those of distension in 3D (Dislocation, Destruction and Degeneration). An atrophic form with resorption of the proximal humerus, most frequently described in syringomyelia, has been observed in diabetes. Loss of the distal end of the clavicle has not been described before in the neuropathies. These changes coupled with speckled calcification or shards of bone in the periarticular soft tissue confirm the diagnosis. Infection and CPPD crystal disease can be difficult to exclude. The joint fluid may be inflammatory and infection may be a complication. Treatment includes anti-inflammatories and splinting. Indications for surgery are limited.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis / diagnosis
  • Arthritis / etiology
  • Arthritis / pathology*
  • Arthropathy, Neurogenic / diagnosis
  • Arthropathy, Neurogenic / etiology
  • Arthropathy, Neurogenic / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Joints / pathology*
  • Joints / physiopathology