Foot & Ankle
The ankle joint is made up of the leg bones, the tibia and fibula, as well as one of the foot bones, the talus. The foot consists of multiple bones, ligaments, and muscles that function in a coordinated fashion to support the body. Problems of the foot and ankle can result from injury (ankle sprain, fractures), arthritis, deformity (bunions, flat feet), nerve compression, as well as other less common disorders.
The foot and ankle specialists at Orthopedic Associates of Hartford have expertise in the non-operative and operative treatment of a wide range of foot and ankle disorders.
Some of the most common foot and ankle problems include:
Achilles tendonitis: The Achilles tendon is the thickest and strongest tendon in the body. Although it can withstand great stress, it is prone to tendonitis that can result from overuse and degeneration, and can cause pain along the back of the leg near the heel.
Arthritis: A disease of the joints that occurs when there is deterioration or destruction of cartilage. Arthritis is common in the small joints of the foot and ankle. Although there is no cure, there are many treatment options available to manage the disease and provide pain relief.
Fractures: Breaks in the bone and can vary from a small cracks to large breaks. An early diagnosis is critical to receiving the best outcome and avoiding surgery or permanent damage.
Sprains and Strains: One of the most common ankle injuries. A severe ankle sprain, although treated properly, can still result in chronic instability of the ankle. Fortunately, with quick and proper treatment, these injuries often heal well.
Foot pain: There are a wide variety of conditions that cause pain on the ball of the foot, heel, or other areas. Some of these include Morton’s neuroma, sesamoiditis, and posterior tibial tendon dysfunction. Some conditions can be treated with non-surgical options such as orthotics and bracing, while other conditions require surgery.
Heel pain: One of the most common conditions affecting the foot and ankle and can result from plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, or other conditions. Ongoing usage of a sore heel can result in progressively worse pain and chronic damage. Our specialists determine the source of the heel pain so the optimal treatment can be provided.
Foot deformities: There are various foot deformities. Some are present at birth such as clubfeet and vertical talus. Others develop overtime with age, improper footwear, or diseases. These may include claw toe, hammertoe, bunions, and flat feet. Some conditions can be corrected with simple measures and others require surgery.
Diabetic conditions: Can result in many conditions affecting the feet that require treatment. These include neuropathy and nerve compression, Charcot foot collapse, infections, and ulcers.
Symptoms associated with foot and ankle pain are varied based on the condition. Some possible symptoms may include:
- Sudden onset of pain or discomfort
- Recurrent pain
- Numbness and tingling in toes
- Pain while walking or standing
- Sensation of feeling a pebble in shoe
- Symptoms vary in intensity from mild to severe.
Medical History and Examination
During your first visit, your doctor will gather information about your general health and ask questions about the extent of your foot and ankle pain and how it affects your lifestyle. He will want to understand the duration and intensity of your symptoms and what types of actions lead to increased pain.
During the physical examination, your doctor will examine your feet and ankle and surrounding joints. Your doctor will be looking for areas that have tenderness, pain or swelling, as well as indications the joint may be damaged. He will perform physical tests to assess for numbness, weakness, tingling, or atrophy. Depending on the findings of the history and exam, your doctor may order lab tests and imaging tests to help make or confirm a diagnosis.
These images help to determine the extent of damage or deformity in the foot or ankle.
Other tests, such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, CAT scan, or ultrasound may be ordered. These tests can provide more details about internal structures and can show soft tissues, such as cartilage, ligaments, and muscles more clearly than x-ray.
There are a number of non-surgical and surgical options to restore mobility and reduce pain.
When it comes to treating foot and ankle pain, there are many options. Rest, ice, and comfortable footwear can be a start. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help relieve pain and inflammation. When first-line treatment with anti-inflammatory medication is not effective, injections may be used. These typically contain a long lasting anesthetic and a steroid that can provide pain relief for weeks to months. Orthotics and bracing may be ordered to reduce pressure on the nerves and help with stability. Physical therapy may be recommended pre- or post-surgery to increase mobility and reduce pressure on certain joints.
If nonsurgical treatment fails to give relief, surgery is usually discussed. There are many surgical options and our team is skilled at the most advanced surgical techniques to inspect, diagnose, and repair foot and ankle problems. The chosen course of surgical treatment should be one that has a reasonable chance of providing long-term pain relief and return to function. It should be tailored to your individual needs.
Learn about the following conditions and treatment options:
Watch these helpful videos to learn about two types of surgery:
Other useful information about a wide range of foot and ankle conditions:
- Adult (Acquired) Flatfoot
- Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle
- Diabetic (Charcot) Foot
- Diabetic Foot
- Flexible Flatfoot in Children
- Plantar Fasciitis and Bone Spurs
- Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction
- Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle
- Vertical Talus
- Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle
- Achilles Tendinitis
- Heel Pain
- Claw Toe
- Hammer Toe
- Ingrown Toenail
- Morton’s Neuroma
- Stiff Big Toe (Hallux Rigidus)