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Going Toe-to-Toe with Foot Pain

"Painful feet or ankles can severely affect your quality of life," says Travis Hanson, M.D, foot and ankle specialist with the Methodist Center for Orthopaedic Surgery at Willowbrook. "Chronic pain can keep you from activities you love and affect your overall health by inhibiting regular exercise.

"Often, acute and repetitive stress injuries respond to rest, anti-inflammatory medications and perhaps orthotics – devices such as shock-absorbing shoe inserts, arch supports or heel pads. But when conservative measures fail to relieve the pain, we can evaluate whether surgery may be necessary."

Common conditions that an orthopedic foot/ankle specialist treats include:

  • Stress fractures — Stress fractures around the foot/ankle can occur when the bone is subject to repetitive injury. "This can happen with runners who push too hard or don't have proper footwear," Dr. Hanson says. Treatment may consist of rest, cross-training, or bracing. Most stress fractures are treated without any surgical intervention.
  • Plantar fasciitis — Characterized by severe pain in the heel, plantar fasciitis occurs when the tissue connecting the heel bone to the base of the toes becomes inflamed. "Most plantar fasciitis resolves with nonoperative measures." Dr. Hanson says. "My initial treatment of this problem typically involves a stretching program and an off-the-shelf heel cushion."
  • Bunions — Bunions are more common in women than men – the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons estimates that more than one half of American women have bunions.* They occur when the joint at the base of the big toe enlarges and becomes painful. Risk factors include heredity, injury, arthritis and wearing ill-fitting shoes. "With bunion surgery, the goal is to realign the joint and relieve pain," Dr. Hanson says. "Most surgery can be done on an outpatient basis. A successful outcome after bunion surgery involves a well-aligned, painless toe that can fit into a reasonable shoe."
  • Chronic ankle pain — Sprained ankles are common, and it's estimated that 40% of people who suffer a sprained ankle will go on to experience chronic ankle pain.** Persistent pain after an ankle sprain that doesn't resolve with nonoperative measures may be treated with arthroscopic surgery. Arthroscopy generally results in less postoperative pain and quicker healing time then conventional surgery using larger incisions.

Call for a Consultation
If you're suffering from chronic foot or ankle pain, don't let it control your life. There are a number of treatments that may get you back on your feet. Call the Methodist Center for Orthopaedic Surgery for a consultation at 281-737-0999.

 * Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, www.aaos.org.
** Source: Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, May 2009.