Ankle Sprains & Fractures
If you’ve injured your foot or ankle on a hike, playing a sport, or at work, the first question you’ll probably ask is: Do I need to see a doctor? At The North American Spine and Pain Institute, our foot & ankle surgeon treats all ankle injuries, including fractures and sprains.
Arthritis of the Foot & Ankle
As with all joints, movement of the foot and ankle is permitted by smooth cartilage that allows for minimum friction when walking, running, or movement in general. As a result of injury, wear and tear, and other conditions, arthritis can develop when that cartilage breaks down. Cartilage doesn’t heal when damaged, so the body attempts to heal by making more bone, resulting in irregular joints and/or bone spurs. Arthritis is often accompanied by dull pain with motion or activity, which may progress over time, as well as stiffness and swelling.
A bunion is a painful, bony bump that develops on the inside of the foot at the joint at the base of the big toe. Pressure on the big toe joint causes the big toe to learn toward the second toe, and over time, the normal structure of the bone changes, resulting in the bunion. A common cause of bunions is wearing shoes that are narrow or too tight, along with structural defects in the toes or feet, or conditions like arthritis. The most recognizable sign of a bunion is a visible bump on the base of the big toe. This can also be accompanied by swelling, redness, soreness, corns, or calluses. Nonsurgical treatment options include anti-inflammatory medication and steroid injections to increase comfort. If conservative treatment fails to provide relief, surgery may be recommended to remove any inflamed tissue surrounding the joint and realign the toe by removing part of the bone.
A hammer toe is a deformity of the second, third, or fourth toes in which the toe is bent at the middle joint, resembling a hammer. This occurs due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments that normally hold the toe straight. There are two types; flexible hammertoes and rigid hammertoes. Flexible hammertoes, which are still moveable at the joint, are less serious as they can be treated while still in the developmental stage. Rigid hammertoes are seen in patients with severe arthritis, or in patients who wait too long to seek treatment. The tendons become tight, the joint is misaligned and immobile, and surgery will most likely be the only treatment option.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common orthopedic complaints, causing pain in the bottom of the heel. The plantar fascia is a thick ligament that connects your heel to the front of your foot, acting as a shock absorber and supporting the arch of your foot, helping you walk. Because of so much wear and tear, too much pressure can damage or tear the ligaments, causing heel pain and stiffness. The most recognizable sign of plantar fasciitis is a stabbing pain near the heel on the bottom of the foot, more severe first thing in the morning, after long periods of standing, or following exercise. Steroid injections and medication can help to ease pain. If your plantar fasciitis requires surgery, Dr. Kang can perform the procedure to detach the plantar fascia from the heel bone.
A neuroma is also referred to as a pinched nerve, and is a benign growth of nerve tissue frequently found between the third and fourth toe. The most common symptom associated with a neuroma is pain between the toes while walking, along with a burning sensation, tingling, or numbness. The pain is often described as similar to having a stone in your shoe. For simple neuromas, techniques such as padding and taping or orthotics can relieve symptoms and control foot function. If the neuroma progresses and conservative treatment fails to help your condition, surgery may be necessary to remove the inflamed nerve.
A stress fracture is marked by a small crack in a bone, or severe bruising within a bone. The weight-bearing bones of the foot and ankle are very vulnerable to stress fractures, due to the force they must absorb from daily activities like walking, running, and jumping. Most stress fractures occur from overuse, when over time, repetitive force results in microscopic damage to the bone. These overuse stress fractures occur when an athletic movement is repeated so often, the bones in the foot & ankle do not have enough time to heal between exercise sessions. Symptoms and pain from a stress fracture usually worsen during weight-bearing activity and diminishes with rest.
Tendon Tears & Ruptures
- Peroneal Tendon: The two peroneal tendons in the foot run side-by-side behind the outer ankle bone. The main function of the peroneal tendons is to stabilize the foot & ankle and protect from sprains and other injuries. Many peroneal tendon injuries are caused by overuse and repetitive ankle motion during athletic or work-related activities.
- Achilles Tendon: The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, connecting the calf muscle to the heel bone. If you overstretch this tendon, it can tear or rupture. The tear can occur as a result of jumping or pivoting, sudden acceleration, falling, or tripping. The Achilles tendon can tear completely or partially. Signs of an Achilles tear include the pain in the back of the ankle or calf, which usually feels like a kick and will subside to an ache, pain and swelling near the heel, and difficulty walking or rising up on the toes. You may hear a popping or snapping sound when the injury occurs.