If you are overweight it means that your weight-bearing joints, including the feet and ankles, knees and hips, have more load placed on them. Losing weight will reduce this load and may help to improve any pain you have in your feet or ankles.
For pain caused by arthritis, muscular weakness or previous surgery, physiotherapy may be helpful. It is important to do the correct exercises and stretches to avoid causing more damage, and to do them at a sensible pace so that your body has time to adapt and adjust to any new demands being placed on it. Our dedicated on-site Physiotherapy team will work closely with you and your consultant to tailor a programme to safely fit your specific needs and current abilities.
Custom orthotics (insoles) can be helpful to correct the structural and functional characteristics of your feet when needed. Your consultant can arrange for you to meet with an experienced orthotist to help with this if required.
Pain relief medication
Pain relief medication such as anti-inflammatories may help to reduce pain and inflammation. Where your pain isn’t being suitably managed by over-the-counter medication, your consultant may prescribe stronger painkillers where appropriate.
If foot or ankle pain is affecting your sleep, there are some medicines that can help with both pain relief and sleep.
A steroid injection may provide some degree of pain relief, and also acts as an anti-inflammatory. In the foot and ankle, steroid injections are frequently used and can be very effective at giving you a period of time with less pain. The effects of this injection can wear off over time and repeat injections may become less effective.
If your symptoms are not improved by the above non-operative interventions, then surgery may be an option. There are a multitude of operations that would be specifically tailored to treat the needs of the individual. An example of the surgical options available for a patient with ankle arthritis is outlined below.
Ankle arthroscopy (keyhole surgery) can be helpful when treating ankle conditions such as treating a small area of cartilage damage and bone spurs. As well as giving your consultant a clear view of the inside of the joint, damaged cartilage and scar tissue causing impingement can be removed. This minimally invasive surgery means smaller cuts, reduced pain and bleeding, less visible scarring, and often a faster recovery.
Where the ankle has been more extensively damaged by osteoarthritis and symptoms such as pain are significant, there are other surgical options available. These involve either fusing or replacing the ankle joint.
Ankle fusion surgery
This procedure removes the arthritic joint, and then permanently joins the bones together by screwing them in place. This fixes (fuses) the joint in position. This is a very effective procedure in reducing pain and improving mobility.
The ankle joint can be replaced (such like a hip or knee replacement) in certain patients with ankle arthritis. The allows movement to be maintained in the ankle but is not suitable for all patients.
Successfully managing foot and ankle conditions depends on getting an accurate diagnosis of the cause of any symptoms. With fast access to experienced surgeons, you will be expertly guided about the best treatment at the right time for your symptoms and condition. And this all starts with your first consultation…