Foot and ankle injuries are among the most common orthopedic injuries. Most of us, especially athletes, put a tremendous amount of strain on our feet and ankles every day. Common foot and ankle conditions include:
- Plantar fasciitis: A condition that causes heel pain. Plantar fasciitis is irritation and inflammation of the tight tissue that forms the arch of the foot. Common symptoms of plantar fasciitis include heel pain with prolonged walking and standing.
- Heel spur: A condition closely related to plantar fasciitis. A heel spur is a hook of bone that forms where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone.
- Ankle sprain: Results when the foot’s ligaments are either stretched too far or tear from an injury. Treatment of an ankle sprain is important so that you can get back to activity quickly.
- High ankle sprain: A term used to describe an injury to the ligaments that connect the two bones of the lower leg. The ligament, called a syndesmosis, joins the bones together and runs from the knee to the ankle. In a high ankle sprain, the syndesmosis is injured.
- Achilles tendonitis or rupture: Achilles tendonitis causes pain at the back of the calf and in severe cases may result in a rupture of the Achilles tendon.
- Posterior tibial tendonitis: An uncommon problem of one of the major tendons in the foot. Problems with this tendon can be debilitating.
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome: A pinched nerve in the back of the foot.
- Lederhose's disease: A condition that causes the formation of nodules within the feet. These nodules may be painful bumps on the sole of the foot.
Some of these common conditions can be treated with stretching, exercises and other forms of physical therapy. Sprains to the feet and ankles may require a cast or splint to keep them immobilized.
Surgical treatment options are often recommended for conditions that don’t respond to conservative treatment, or if the foot and ankle condition is emergent.
Questions & answers
Why do people visit foot & ankle specialists?
Patients visit Crozer-Keystone’s foot and ankle specialists for help with a variety of symptoms and conditions, including:
- Achilles tendon problems
- Ankle sprains and strains
- Arch pain (plantar fasciitis)
- Athletic injuries
- Broken bones
- Diabetic foot care
- Flat feet
- Heel pain
- Nail problems
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Reconstructive surgery or limb salvage
- Shin splints
- Sinus tarsi syndrome
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome
Foot and ankle problems are treated with orthotic appliances as well as shoes, medicine, rest, and/or physical therapy, injections or surgical procedures. Today's procedures, therapies and treatments offer far more relief and healing than previously.
Which specialist should I contact if I have a foot or ankle problem?
At Crozer-Keystone, foot and ankle care is offered by:
- Podiatrists—sometimes called “foot doctors”—are physicians and surgeons who specialize in the medical care of the foot, ankle and lower leg.
- Orthopedic surgeons are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and diseases of the entire musculoskeletal system, including foot and ankle care.
- Sports medicine specialists are physicians and surgeons who specialize in the prevention and treatment of sports and athletic injuries and challenges.
- Physical therapists help restore motion, strength and flexibility while reducing pain. They also educate patients about preventive measures to reduce the potential of injury.
All of Crozer-Keystone's foot and ankle specialists offer advanced diagnostic procedures as well as the latest treatments and therapies. As a group, they work together to ensure that each patient gets optimal care.
Are there ways to maintain foot & ankle health?
Specialists agree that regular exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight goes a long way in helping prevent foot and ankle problems. The American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society has found that foot and ankle problems are much more common in people with a higher weight and body mass index (BMI).
Also, it’s helpful to wear comfortable and properly fitting shoes with adequate cushioning. Strengthening exercises and stretches can be useful in toning the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the feet and ankles.
Periodic follow-up with a foot and ankle specialist is necessary for anyone with a medical condition such as diabetes, or other conditions and medications that might affect the body’s ability to fight infection or heal properly.
What if surgery is necessary for a foot & ankle problem?
Sometimes surgery is indicated for certain foot and ankle problems. Crozer-Keystone's surgeons are specially trained to surgically treat foot and ankle problems in the least invasive way possible, encouraging quicker recovery periods and an accelerated return to normal activities.
Surgical candidates are carefully evaluated with sophisticated diagnostic technology as well as hands-on examination and careful health history review. In some cases, surgery can be done arthroscopically (using a camera and instruments placed inside a small incision).
Much attention is given to mentally and physically preparing each patient for the procedure and developing a personalized after-care plan.
Do foot & ankle specialists see patients for sports-related injuries?
Absolutely. Special care should be taken to avoid exercise and sports-related foot and ankle problems. According to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, a 150-pound runner who runs three miles puts a cumulative impact of 150 tons on each foot.
Approximately 20 percent of all sports-related injuries occur in the foot or ankle. Whether injuries happen through fitness routines, competitive or professional sports activities, Crozer-Keystone's foot and ankle specialists offer complete and thorough care.
Do foot & ankle specialists help with “minor” problems, such as fungus and nail issues?
Yes. Although they may sound insignificant, fungus and nail problems, as well as corns, calluses, and warts, can cause a great deal of discomfort and impair mobility.
Many sufferers try to treat these problems with over-the-counter remedies, but left untreated, these ailments can develop further and cause larger problems. Certainly, any wound or ulceration on a foot that does not heal rapidly by itself needs to be examined promptly by a specialist, especially in patients with chronic medical problems such as diabetes.