Non-Surgical Treatment for Foot and Ankle Pain

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Many foot and ankle problems may be treatable without surgery. The physicians at the Foot and Ankle Center at Hinsdale Orthopaedics maintain a philosophy that surgery should be reserved for when all other measures have proven unsuccessful in returning patients to an active lifestyle. Fortunately, there are several non-surgical treatments that can help to reduce foot and ankle pain and in many cases they come with few side effects or complications.

Weight Management and Activity:

Maintaining a healthy weight and regular exercise are essential tools to help reduce joint pain and stiffness, build strong muscle around the joints and increase flexibility. While losing weight may not reverse the damage that has been done to a joint, research has shown that even moderate weight losses can have a dramatic effect on the relief of joint pain. Reaching a normal body weight is recommended for people who are overweight, however starting with reasonable goals like losing 10 or 20 pounds can help with join pain. Exercise can enhance weight loss and promote long-term weight management. Regular activity replenishes lubrication to the cartilage of the joint and reduces stiffness and pain. Exercise can keep the muscles around affected joints strong, help to decrease bone loss and help control joint swelling and pain.

Physical Therapy:

Physical therapy is an important part of the non-operative treatment of foot and ankle arthritis and injuries. The goal of physical therapy is to get you back to the point where you can perform normal, everyday activities without difficulty. It is important to work with a therapist who is specifically trained and experienced in the area of Foot and Ankle Preservation therapy.  Physical therapists may recommend a combination of Isometric (no movement) exercises to help build muscle strength without subjecting inflamed joints to excessive wear and Isotonic (same force) exercises to further increase muscle strength and help preserve function. Preserving good range of motion is key to maintaining the ability to perform daily activities.

Cortisone Injections:

Cortisone is a type of steroid that is produced naturally by the body in the adrenal gland. Natural cortisone is released from the adrenal gland when your body is under stress and is relatively short acting. Synthetic cortisone is close to what is naturally produced in the body; however, unlike natural cortisone, synthetic cortisone is not injected into the blood stream but into a particular area of inflammation. It is designed to act for a longer period of time. By injecting the cortisone into a particular area of inflammation, very high concentrations of the medication can be given, the injections may work within a few days and the effects can last for up to several weeks or months. These injections offer quick, effective pain relief for some patients; however, they can be used only a few times a year because they weaken bone and cartilage.

PRP- Platelet-Rich Plasma

PRP or Platelet-rich Plasma is an emerging treatment in a new health sector known as “Orthobiologics,€ which follows the philosophy of merging new technology with the body€™s natural ability to heal itself. The physicians at the Hinsdale Orthopaedics Hip Center are leading the way with this specialized process, by which the growth factors from a patient’s own blood are injected into the site of inflammation to stimulate the healing process to decrease pain. Although more data is still needed, PRP may provide an alternative to surgery or to other types of injections.

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