Foot and ankle problems can result in debilitating pain and, quite possibly, render you immobile. From injuries to diseases to aging, there are numerous reasons why our feet and ankles suffer pain.  Each foot and ankle has 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments and can sustain enormous pressure while providing flexibility and resiliency.  Whether it be an injury or simple wear and tear, it is almost inevitable that we will experience foot and/or ankle pain at some point in our lives.  The physicians who participate in the Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center referral line treat numerous types of orthopedic conditions including those associated with the foot and ankle. Let’s address some of the conditions that can cause foot and ankle problems and how they can be treated.

Common Foot and Ankle Disorders

Some common foot and ankle disorders and treatment options are:

  • Ankle fractures can be treated by casting or by surgery depending on the severity of the fracture.
  • Bunions (a bony prominence beside the big or little toes that causes pain when walking and/or wearing shoes) are treated by a surgical procedure called a Bunionectomy.
  • Flat feet are treated by reconstructive surgery to correct angular deformities.
  • Plantar fasciitis (pain and inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes) can be treated by anti-inflammatory medications, heel-stretching exercises, rest, ice, night splints, casting, and, in some cases, surgery.
  • Stress fractures (tiny cracks in a bone often caused by the repetitive application of force/overuse) may be treated with rest, protective footwear, casting and, in some cases, surgery.

These are only a few of the common foot and ankle disorders.  With so many bones, joints, and ligaments in each foot, there are numerous disorders that should be diagnosed and treated by an orthopedic physician.

Foot and Ankle Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, also referred to as a “wear and tear” disease, occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time.  Foot and ankle osteoarthritis causes are numerous.  These include, but are not limited to:  age, obesity, injuries, bone deformities, genetics (some people tend to inherit osteoarthritis), and certain occupations that place repetitive stress on your feet and ankles.
Image of foot osteoarthritis
Symptoms of foot or ankle osteoarthritis may include pain and stiffness in the joint, swelling in or near the joint, and difficulty walking or bending the joint.  These symptoms can occur alone or a person may experience all three when suffering from foot and ankle osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a condition that can be managed, not cured.  Some foot and ankle treatments for osteoarthritis are:

  • Oral medications –  nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, often help reduce pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis.
  • Orthotic devices – custom orthotic devices provide support to improve the foot’s mechanics or cushioning to alleviate or minimize pain.
  • Bracing – by restricting motion and supporting the joint, bracing may reduce pain during walking and help prevent further deformity.
  • Immobilization – wearing a cast or a removable cast-boot protects the foot while allowing the inflammation to resolve.
  • Steroid injections – anti-inflammatory medication is delivered directly to the affected joint via steroid injection.
  • Physical therapy – exercises to strengthen the muscles may provide greater stability and help avoid injury that might worsen the condition.

In cases of severe foot and ankle osteoarthritis that has failed to respond to treatment or substantially progressed, surgery may be considered with the goal of decreasing pain and improving function.

Seeking Treatment

If you have joint pain or stiffness in your foot and/or ankle that does not go away, contact the friendly staff at Texas Health Spine & Orthopedic Center at 1-888-608-4762 to schedule an appointment with a experienced orthopedic physician.

Physicians who are members of the referral program practice independently and are not employees or agents of Texas Health Spine and Orthopedic Center.

Reference: www.aaos.org