5 Common Foot and Ankle Conditions that Can Sideline Any Athlete

We sometimes take our feet and ankles for granted until they hurt or are injured, and we find ourselves sidelined from participating in typical daily activities or the sports we love.

The five most common foot and ankle conditions Steward Health Care board-certified orthopedic surgeon Kurt Hofmann, MD sees are:

  • Ankle sprains
  • Ankle fractures
  • Achilles tendon injuries (ruptures and tendonitis)
  • Bunions and hammertoes
  • Arthritis of the ankle and foot

According to Dr. Hofmann, who specializes in treating a multitude of foot and ankle conditions, patients who have symptoms with any of these five most common conditions should not wait to see their primary care physician. If a patient comes in sooner, rather than later, treatment can begin, helping to speed up recovery time.

How are These Conditions Typical Treated?

For ankle fractures and sprains, the first step is immobilization and rest. A patient may be fitted with a brace and will typically receive physical therapy as part of the recovery process. As their injuries heal.

The type of treatment for an Achilles tendon injury is determined by the severity of the injury. Bracing, in-office biologic injections to reduce inflammation if tendonitis is the issue, and a rigorous physical therapy program are forms of treatment used.

Over-the-counter products such as splints and straps are treatment methods for bunions and hammertoes that aren’t severe. Dr. Hofmann also recommends that his patients seek better shoe wear and orthotics as both can help balance the foot and take the pressure off of the areas being affected.

“We also offer minimally invasive procedures for Achilles tendon ruptures and to correct bunions and hammertoes,” says Dr. Hofmann. “We use a fluoroscopic guided procedure that uses X-ray to guide the surgeon with very fine instruments. Patients benefit from a smaller incision, reduced risk of infection and a faster overall recovery.”

Lastly, there are several options and procedures available for treating arthritis of the ankle and foot. For mild arthritis, bracing, orthotics, and injections to help with inflammation are the first course of treatment.

Regenerative medicine is another treatment method used to treat injuries to bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints of the foot and ankle. Regenerative medicine seeks to enable the body to heal its own damaged tissues without the need for surgery or joint replacements.  Treatments include platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy and stem cell therapy among others.

Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy

PRP is the plasma portion of blood drawn from the patient and processed via a short, in-office procedure. PRP contains platelet cells and various growth factors, which are involved in tissue healing.  These factors are injected into an injured area for the purpose of healing damaged tissue. PRP is an in-office procedure that takes approximately an hour. Because the patient’s own blood/cells are used, there are very few complications or side effects.

Stem Cell Therapy

Adult stem cells are basic and undifferentiated, giving rise to every other cell in the body. They can be harvested from various sources and injected in the injured area for the purpose of regenerating damaged tissue and preserving cartilage function.

Ankle Replacement

If a patient has tried all non-surgical treatments for ankle arthritis and is still complaining of pain and limitations with certain activities, a total ankle replacement may be an option.

“Because a total ankle replacement is a more complex procedure, the typical recovery period is approximately three months,” explains Dr. Hofmann. “But the positive outcomes include pain relief as well as preserving some function regarding gait and motion. After recovery, many patients can walk, golf, hike, and participate in low impact recreational sports.”

Have a foot or ankle condition that needs to be looked at by an orthopedic specialist? If so, schedule an appointment with a Steward Health Care orthopedic specialist close to where you live or work.

To find a doctor or schedule an appointment, visit Steward DoctorFinder™.