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Foot & Ankle
Foot & ankle
The foot is made up of 26 bones, 30 joints and even more muscles, tendons and ligaments! The foot and ankle are wrapped in multiple ligaments that support the joints and whilst they are strong and stretchy, they do have a limit to their range of movement.
An ankle sprain occurs when the ankle is rolled or twisted and the ligaments stretch beyond their physical capabilities and tear. Sprains vary in severity with symptoms that often include sharp pain when weight is pressed on the ankle, swelling, tenderness, reduction in mobility and a ‘popping’ sound upon injury.
How is it treated?
Treatments depend on the severity of the sprain which are divided into three 'grades'.
Grade 1: A mild sprain where the ligaments may be stretched with extremely minor small tears to the ligaments fibre causing swelling and tenderness. This is treated with rest and over the counter painkillers.
Grade 2: A moderate sprain which tends to be a partial tear of the ligament which may need to be X-Rayed to check for damage to other tendons and bones. Treatments can include rest, compression, painkillers and strengthening exercises that assist the healing process.
Grade 3: A severe sprain is a complete tear of a ligament that will need immediate medical attention. Treatment includes rest and care as well as physiotherapy and in extreme cases, surgery.
Another option that can help all cases from mild to severe and prevent further recurrences is regenerative medicine. Using your natural stem cells and/or plasma-rich platelets, the aim is to restore and rejuvenate the cells within the ligaments, regrowing an undamaged and healthy tissue using cutting edge imaging technology.
Three bones make up the ankle joint, the tibia, fibula and talus. An ankle fracture is where one or more of these bones cracks or breaks which can range from moderate discomfort to severe pain. Symptoms include sudden sharp pain, inability to put weight on the joint, swelling, tenderness and sometimes deformity. If a fracture is suspected it is always worth getting it checked as there could also be ligament damage to the joint and further treatment may be required.
How is it treated?
Treatments for an ankle fracture depend on the severity of the break. Crutches and a cast or removable brace are often necessitated to immobilise, protect and ensure the bone(s) repair correctly. If any of the bones are displaced, surgery may be required to correct their alignment to guarantee a correct and healthy recovery. Physiotherapy can help treat long-term damage to the ligaments and regenerative medicine may eliminate ligament issues entirely.
Achilles Tendon Rupture (Achilles Pain)
The Achilles tendon is the longest in the body, it attaches the heel to the lower leg’s calf muscle using a strong fibrous cord. Whilst a strong and dexterous tendon, it can become damaged through physical trauma, overuse and subsequently, rupture. The rupture can be partial or complete where the tendon becomes severed entirely. Symptoms include moderate to severe sharp pain, a sudden lack of mobility and an inability to place weight on the damaged foot.
How is it treated?
Treatment for a rupture of the Achilles tendon varies depending on the severity of the tear. Non-surgical options often include crutches, a cast or boot and painkillers to secure, immobilise and protect the damaged tendon, allowing it to repair correctly. Surgery is also often used by stitching the tendon back together, often done to provide a speedier recovery for athletes. Another modern option is regenerative medicine which uses natural stem cells and plasma rich platelets to repair the damaged tendon’s cells using state of the art imaging technology to inject the cells where they are needed in a non-invasive procedure.
Where an Achilles rupture or an ankle fracture are caused by one sudden event, Achilles tendonitis is caused over a prolonged period. It is customarily caused by overuse of the tendon, common in runners. This is a recurring issue that begins with mild aching in the back of the leg which can progress to more severe pain if left untreated, as well as stiffness and tenderness.
Achilles tendinitis can be treated by eliminating or reducing the particular movement that is causing excessive stress on the tendon. Physical therapy exercises that stretch out the tendon can also help as well as orthotics to aid correct posture. Extreme cases that are causing immense pain and where other treatments aren't healing may call for surgical intervention. Another option that is non-invasive but effective is regenerative medicine which injects natural stem cells and plasma rich platelets into the damaged tendon, rebuilding and rejuvenating the cells that make up the tissue.
Bunions occur on the base joint of the big toe and can look out of place. It is a deformity where the big toe turns inward causing a bony protrusion on the joint. This lump can cause pain, inflammation and sometimes numbness in the toe. They are caused by injuries, birth defects or an inherited foot type.
If left untreated, a bunion can become very painful as well as potentially causing bursitis, hammertoe and metatarsalgia. Anti-inflammatories, changing shoes and padding for the toe can help ease symptoms but if the pain persists, surgery is required to remove the bunion entirely by removing sections of bone or tissue, realigning the toe to its correct position.
Corns are thick growths of skin that often occur on the hands and feet. These hardened areas of skin often look discoloured and can cause pain and tenderness under the skin. They are frequently caused by not wearing socks, very tight shoes, playing an instrument frequently or lifting weights often.
Corns can often go away if the cause has been eliminated like wearing gripped gloves to workout, or wearing socks in comfortable shoes. If this does not work they are over the counter corn treatments, orthotics and for extremely rare cases where they cause the bone to become deformed, surgery may be required.
When synovial fluid leaks from a tendon or joint it can form a swelling that eventually becomes a Ganglion cyst. The exact causes are unconfirmed but these cysts can appear on the hands and feet causing a dull ache, tingling but mainly a large lump that can impact wearing shoes.
Excessive movement can cause the cyst to get larger, immobilisation is often recommended to make the cyst shrink naturally. Aspiration is also a common treatment for ganglion cysts where a needle is used to drain the cyst of its fluids. If neither of these work, surgery can be undertaken to remove the cyst and detach it from the tissue.
Ingrown toenails are a common affliction where the nail of the toe (often the big toe) grows into the tissues, sometimes curling underneath itself. Symptoms include swelling, redness, pain and discomfort in the toe but this can worsen if the toe becomes infected which can secrete pus.
Soaking the foot at least three times a day in warm water can relax the skin around the nail as well as wearing wide, comfortable shoes that do not apply any pressure on the toe. Over the counter painkillers can also help medicate the pain in the short term, but if it persists a trained podiatrist can cut away the infringing section of the nail. If the toenail becomes infected it will have to be treated with antibiotics first before any other action can be taken.
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