BACKGROUND: Charcot neuroarthropathy (CNA) of the upper extremity occurs most frequently in shoulders. However, CNA in the hands is uncommon and seldom be reported. The onset of CNA is usually insidious. If this process continues undetected, it can result in joint deformity, ulceration and/or superinfection, loss of function, and amputation or even death. In this article, we are going to present three cases of CNA in the hands of individuals with cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) with central cord syndrome.
CASE PRESENTATION: Three male individuals with cervical spinal stenosis contracted tetraplegia (American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale Grade D, D, and B) due to spinal cord contusion after a trauma and developed hand swelling without pain 2 to 3 months after their SCI. X-ray showed degenerative joint changes in the hands. CNA was considered due to the patient's history of cervical SCI, loss of motor function and sensation, symptoms of painless swelling, physical examination, and X-ray findings. The self-care sub scores of Spinal Cord Independence Measure III improved slightly only during rehabilitation and follow-up due to poor hand function.
CONCLUSIONS: CNA may develop after a central or peripheral neurological disorder. Nearly every joint of the body can be affected and the lower limbs are the most frequently involved. However, CNA of the hand is rare. We present three patients with CNA in the hands after cervical SCI and review the features and early differential diagnosis of CNA. Currently there is no specific treatment available. Therefore, early identification of CNA and adequate protection to the affected joints seem important.