From hammertoes to Achilles tendonitis, foot and ankle pain can be quite uncomfortable, even debilitating. You may find you can’t walk because you’re in so much pain. Instead of contacting your family doctor, you might want to consider getting more specialized care from a Chicago podiatrist. These doctors are trained in conditions that affect the foot and ankle, and know when to recommend surgery.
What Is a Podiatric Surgeon?
A Chicago podiatric surgeon will assess the extent of an ankle or foot injury and decide whether an operation can improve mobility and reduce pain. They are experts in all things related to the ankles and feet. With their knowledge and care, patients can get some relief from their chronic pain.
How Do You Find a local Chicago Podiatric Surgeon?
Looking for podiatric surgeons near you? Start by browsing the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery and narrow down results to the Chicago area.
Once you’ve found a suitable podiatric surgeon, you may wonder just which medical conditions can be treated with surgery. Here are five common ones where a patient may experience less pain and a better quality of life.
Although hammertoes may not sound very serious, this medical condition can be incredibly painful. Patients may be born with misshapen toes, or the positioning of the toes may change over time from bunions, tendon or ligament issues, arthritis, or even wearing inappropriate footwear (such as high heels or shoes that are too small). The toes will “bend or curl downward instead of pointing forward,” says April Kahn at Healthline.
As you can imagine, if your toes are positioned that way, you will find it hard to walk or enjoy physical activities. When visiting with a podiatric surgeon, they will look at the foot or feet in question to determine how severe the case is. By using foot pads and making smart footwear choices, it’s sometimes possible to reverse the effects of hammertoes over time.
However, surgery is recommended if the feet are seriously misshapen to the point where movement is minimized or restricted. This procedure isn’t intensive and can be performed at a doctor’s office. Most patients go right home afterwards and only need to recover for a short time.
2. Gouty Arthritis
Gouty arthritis leads to “swollen, red, hot and stiff joints,” says MedlinePlus. The condition is caused by an excessive amount of uric acid.
“Uric acid comes from the breakdown of substances called purines,” Medline explains. “Purines are in your body’s tissues and in food, such as liver, dried beans and peas, and anchovies.”
Uric acid is common in normal amounts, and a person will urinate this acid without incident. However, with too much uric acid, it can harden into what’s known as tophi. The patient may develop kidney stones and experience bodily pain.
Gout can affect the arms and legs, including the feet and ankles. In most cases, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications can treat gouty arthritis. Only in rare cases will a patient require surgery, such as if there’s an excess of tophi. An operation can reduce tophi to relieve joint aches.
3. Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that can be exacerbated by diabetes. George Krucik, also at Healthline, estimates “between 60 and 70 percent of people with diabetes have some form of neuropathy,” citing research from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, some may develop this condition even without having diabetes.
Although diabetic peripheral neuropathy affects the spinal cord and the brain and limits their abilities to communicate, other parts of the body, like the feet, get the brunt of the symptoms. Balance is altered, increasing chances of falling. You may experience intense but intermittent pain. You may also have a pins and needles sensation in the feet or hands at times.
Surgery isn’t a common treatment for diabetic peripheral neuropathy and is only necessary if the nerves are affected. A surgical procedure can reduce nerve pain. Otherwise, your local Chicago podiatric surgeon may suggest transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation and other therapies or medication.
4. Plantar Fasciitis
Have the heels of your feet been chronically sore for weeks or months now? If so, it could be plantar fasciitis. A Chicago podiatry doctor can diagnose and treat this condition, which affects the plantar fascia, or a “thin, web-like ligament that connects your heel from the front of your foot,” explains Christine Case-Lo at Healthline.
Plantar fasciitis has many causes. Shoes that fit improperly, having a history of Achilles tendon problems, having flat feet, working at a job where you walk a lot, running often, being pregnant or being severely overweight can all irritate the ligament. Plantar fasciitis doesn’t appear overnight but develops slowly over time. By then, the pain can be severe.
For some, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs reduce symptoms. Others use supports, and some go to physical therapy. Extracorporeal shock wave therapy is the last step before surgery. If a podiatric surgeon does need to operate, he or she may opt for a gastrocnemius recession, where the calf is stretched to reduce foot pain. Another procedure can “partially detach the plantar fascia from the heel bone” to treat the condition, “but this weakens the arch of the foot and full function may be lost.”
5. Achilles Tendonitis
The Achilles tendon is found beneath the calf muscles. You can agitate this tendon by doing various physical activities, including running and jogging. Bone spur developments and arthritis can also cause Achilles tendonitis. If you have this condition, you’ll notice your foot is incredibly sore, especially around the heel.
For some, the pain stops when they’re not engaged in physical activity, but for others, it hurts no matter what. If so, contact a podiatrist, who will test for Achilles tendonitis with an MRI or X-ray.
Achilles tendonitis is common and typically simple to treat. However, MedlinePlus notes the pain won’t totally disappear for at least two months. Resting and icing the area can be an effective treatment for mild pain. For more severe pain, prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, supportive shoes and wearing foot braces should help.
Surgery may be the best bet if a few months have passed and the pain hasn’t let up. A surgeon can “remove inflamed tissue and abnormal areas of the tendon. If there is a bone spur irritating the tendon, surgery can be used to remove the spur.”