Your aching feet don’t have to stay sore. In addition to routine foot care, podiatrists in the Sutter Health network treat more advanced and complex foot and ankle issues often caused by age or a sports mishap.
A combination of nonsurgical procedures and corrective devices, such as custom-made shoe inserts (orthotics), shoes and braces, reduces pressure and strain on your feet. Podiatrists help resolve:
- Bunions — These often result from your gait or from wearing too-tight shoes or high heels. Over time, the joint at the base of the big toe enlarges and protrudes to the side. The toe itself sometimes overlaps the next toe, and the whole area can become swollen and painful. Treatment options include padding or orthotics to reposition the foot and prevent further damage, anti-inflammatory medications and ultrasound therapy. In some cases, bunions might require corrective surgery.
- Neuroma — This thickened tissue develops around a nerve in the foot, most often a nerve that leads to a toe, and causes burning, pain and numbness. To alleviate discomfort, your podiatrist may suggest that you avoid tight shoes and high heels, use orthotics to lessen the pressure on the area or receive an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid injection.
- Arthritis — In foot and ankle joints arthritis can’t be cured, but your doctor can often reduce the pain with oral anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroid injections or orthotics designed to position your joints better. Physical therapy and exercise may help, too.
Podiatrists treat some foot conditions, including plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis, with extracorporeal shockwave therapy. A device placed on the skin sends acoustic waves (shock waves) into the foot; the waves help tissues to heal, possibly by improving blood flow to the area.
When your foot and ankle problems defy correction from noninvasive means, surgery may be the answer. In the Sutter Health network, surgeons will work with you to achieve your goals.
If you have arthritis, ankle replacement may provide great relief. Not ready for a full replacement? Consider ankle distraction arthroplasty. In this procedure (also known as the Illizarov technique), an external frame holds the joint surfaces apart for two to three months, giving them time to heal. Your podiatrist also may suggest ankle fusion, in which a surgeon removes arthritic joint surfaces to allow adjoining bones to fuse into one bone.
To repair or reconstruct ligaments or your Achilles tendon, talk to your doctor about ankle arthroscopy. And if you have uncomfortable foot arches because they’re either too high (cavus foot) or too flat, ask about corrective footwear, orthotics or even surgery to lengthen or shorten tendons or to correct bone deformities.