Nonsurgical Treatment for Foot & Ankle Pain
The foot and ankle is a complex joint involved in movement and providing stability and balance to the body.
The foot is composed of different structures including bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles. As the feet bear the weight of our body, they are more prone to injury and pain. Normally, foot pain can be treated with home treatments but may take time to heal. However, in cases of severe injury, adequate evaluation and treatment is required.
Foot pain may arise due to advanced age, being overweight, excessive sports activities or walking, foot injury or trauma, inborn foot deformities, poorly fitted shoes, and from standing on your feet for a long duration. Certain disorders and conditions may also induce foot and ankle pain which include:
- Achilles tendinitis
- Achilles tendon rupture
- Bone spurs
- Broken ankle, foot or toe
- Suffering from conditions such as diabetic neuropathy, gout and osteoarthritis
- Foot deformities such as hammertoe, mallet toe, plantar warts, ingrown toenails and many others
- Foot tendinitis
- Foot tumors
The cause of foot and ankle pain can be diagnosed by using imaging techniques such as X-rays, CT scan and MRI scans.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
The treatment depends upon the fundamental cause. The usual measures include:
- Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.): This is the most commonly suggested treatment option. Staying off (resting) the injured foot can heal the fracture. Covering the affected area with ice packs over a towel reduces swelling and pain. Compression stockings or elastic bandages, and positioning your feet above the heart level reduces swelling.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medications may be recommended for management of pain and inflammation.
- Toe pads or gel pads can be placed inside your shoes to help cushion the shock while walking. Simple footwear modifications include using low-heeled shoes and broad toe box shoes with silicone gel pads to minimize discomfort at the tip of the toes.
- Physical therapy may be recommended to improve range of motion and strengthen the foot muscles. Weight-bearing however, should be a gradual process with the help of a cane or walking boot.
- Immobilization: Casting the injured foot prevents the fractured bone from moving. Walking with the help of crutches is advisable to avoid bearing body weight until healing has occurred. The doctor may also suggest a brace or splint to reduce motion of the ankle or foot.
Other medical treatments that may be considered include ultrasound, electrical stimulators and laser therapy to enhance circulation and stimulate healing.