Treatment for foot and ankle problems depends on the diagnosis.
Ankle fracture: A broken ankle is usually casted and requires that no weight be placed on the ankle for a prescribed period of time. Pins, screws and/or plates may be necessary and require surgery for insertion.
Ankle fusion: A surgical procedure to relieve arthritic pain in the ankle; the procedure moves cartilage between bones in the joint and fuses them together with bone grafts and metal hardware to eliminate pain-causing movement.
Ankle sprain: A sprained ankle occurs when small tears are made in the ankle ligaments, which connect bones to one another. The tearing leads to swelling and bruising, making it difficult to bear weight on the joint. Treatment includes keeping weight off the ankle, icing the ankle and taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen for the pain.
Arthritis: Medication is usually prescribed for pain caused by arthritis. Gentle exercise may also be prescribed. Severe cases of arthritis may require ankle replacement.
Bunionectomy: Surgery to correct a deformity that develops as a bony prominence beside the big toe or little toe (tailors bunion) and causes pain when walking and/or wearing shoes; the bone is cut and repositioned so the neighboring joint functions properly.
Flat foot reconstruction: Surgery that corrects angular deformities (often called "fallen arches") through the use of implants and other techniques.
Hammertoes: A condition in which shortened or tightened tendons cause toes to remain constantly in a curled position, resulting in painful corns and calluses; surgery lengthens the tendon and removes a segment of bone so the toe straightens normally.
Lateral ankle reconstruction: Surgery that re-routes a healthy tendon to compensate for one on the outside (lateral) of the ankle that has been damaged or weakened by one or more severe sprains.
Osteochondral cartilage transfer: A procedure that replaces damaged or diseased cartilage in a joint with some of the patient's own healthy cartilage; cartilage is the tissue that cushions joints and keeps bones from rubbing against each other and causing pain; in this surgery, plugs of underlying bone are harvested and transplanted along with the attached cartilage to encourage successful transfer; this operation can usually be done athroscopically.
Plantar fasciitis: Plantar fasciitis occurs when the strong band of tissue that supports the arch of the foot becomes irritated and inflamed. Treatment may include anti-inflammatory medications, heel stretching exercises, rest, ice and night splints. Sometimes the affected foot is placed in a short leg cast to reduce pain, and in a few cases, surgery to release the tight, inflamed band of tissue becomes necessary.
Stress fracture: A stress fracture is a small crack in the bone, which often develops from overuse, such as from high-impact sports like distance running or basketball. Rest is the key treatment for a stress fracture. Protective footwear may be prescribed, and a cast may be needed. Sometimes surgery may be necessary.
Tendon repair: Procedures that reattach reconstruct or replace ankle tendons (e.g. the Achilles tendon) that have been injured.
Total ankle replacement surgery: A surgical procedure whereby the natural ankle joint is replaced with a prosthetic made of metal alloys and high density plastic; ankle replacement is usually needed when arthritic damage causes chronic pain in the joint; replacement is an alternative to ankle fusion surgery, which limits mobility.