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Causes of Ankle Pain

If you are suffering from ankle pain, it could be caused by a number of different injuries or medical conditions. Any problem causing pain, swelling, discoloration, or loss of motion in the joint should be evaluated by your doctor as early as possible. The earlier the problem is dealt with, the better the outcome or diagnosis will be – and the more treatable it will be.

The anatomy of the ankle is complex. Simply put, it is the joint where the tibia and fibula bones of your lower leg meet with the talus bone in the foot.

These bones are held together at the ankle joint by muscle, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons, all of which give the ankle its strength, flexibility, and range of motion. If the ankle gets damaged, it can limit your range of motion and your ability to move freely, and can make even the slightest movement excruciatingly painful.

Ankle Injuries

Although many ankle injuries happen during athletic activity, this isn’t always the case; just walking over an uneven surface could cause a nasty injury. The most common injuries to the ankle include the following:

Ankle Sprains

A sprain can happen when you stretch or tear one or more ligaments in your ankle. Something as simple as walking on an uneven surface or wearing ill-fitting shoes can cause a sudden loss of balance that makes the ankle twist. The resulting damage can cause swelling, pain, and bruising.

If it is a light sprain, it should only take a few days to heal – and can usually be treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). A serious sprain can mean the ligament has suffered a complete tear, and walking or any weight-bearing on the ankle is not possible.

Ankle sprains are categorized by the amount of injury to the ligaments:

  • A Grade One sprained ankle has minimal impairment, slight stretching, and some damage to the ligament fibers.
  • A Grade Two sprain is characterized by partial tearing of the ligament. The ankle joint is lax or looser than normal.
  • A Grade Three sprain describes a complete tear of the ligament. The ankle joint is completely unstable.

The majority of ankle sprains heal with nonsurgical treatment methods, but a major sprain or several minor sprains can lead to permanent ankle instability if left untreated. It is recommended that you seek evaluation by your orthopedist for any ankle injury, as they can determine the severity of the injury and recommend the best course of treatment.

Ankle Strains

A strained ankle is less common than a sprained ankle, and it can occur due to overuse of the ankle such as in long-distance running. It causes similar symptoms as a sprain but occurs when the muscles or tendons get overstretched or torn. The tendons stabilize and protect the ankle but can become inflamed through injury or overuse.

Ankle Fracture

A broken ankle is the same thing as an ankle fracture, and it describes a break in one or more of the bones that make up the ankle joint. Fractures can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and bruising, so they can be mistaken for sprains.

Related to a broken ankle is a hindfoot fracture, which occurs in the heel bone (calcaneus) or the bone above the heel (talus). This injury can be serious and can take a long time to heal, with or without surgery, and you will not be able to put weight on your foot to stand or walk.

Health Conditions Which Can Cause Ankle Pain

Some medical conditions can affect the ankle and cause pain, including the following:

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and can affect the ankle, and it is caused by wear-and-tear over time. Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones where they meet at the joints; this breakdown causes the bones to rub against each other which can cause stiffness, pain, and loss of range of motion in the joint.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease in which the body’s immune system begins to attack the membrane that protects and lines the joints. The result can be pain, swelling, loss of function, and joint damage, and it can spread to other organs of the body as well.

Gout

Gout is a form of arthritis that occurs when excess uric acid (a waste product circulating in the bloodstream) builds up in the body and deposits urate crystals in the joints. Gout often begins as a result of an injury or illness, and the first symptoms usually affect the big toe – moving to other joints, including the ankles.

Those who suffer from gout experience excruciating pain and swelling in their joints. The best way to prevent and resolve gout is by drinking plenty of water.

Lupus

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that attacks healthy tissue, including joints and organs. Lupus can cause ankle pain and swelling, however this may indicate the kidneys have been affected.

Septic/Infectious Arthritis

Septic or infectious arthritis is arthritis that is the result of an infection, such as a virus, within the joint. It can also be caused by bacteria that has spread through the bloodstream to the joint and can affect the ankles.

This type of infection can cause swelling, extreme discomfort, and difficulty using the ankle. If the condition is left untreated, it can cause joint destruction.

Orthopedic Doctors in Colorado Springs

Causes of ankle pain can range in complexity, but any pain or joint discomfort that lasts for more than a few days and prevents you from going through your daily routine should be evaluated by a doctor or orthopedist. The diagnosis and the severity of the pain will determine the best course of treatment for you.

If you are suffering with ankle pain or any other joint issues, our experts at the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence can offer you the specialized help you need. We perform a comprehensive evaluation of the affected area and use diagnostic testing to ensure an accurate diagnosis. We use the most innovative treatments and, where possible, try to use noninvasive or minimally invasive treatments – including joint injections, cryotherapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and rehabilitation.

Don’t let ankle pain ruin your lifestyle. At Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence, our specialists can help eliminate the pain so you can get back to peak condition and return to your normal activities as soon as possible.

For an appointment, call our Colorado Springs office today at (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment online. We look forward to seeing you here.

Why Diabetic Patients Need to See their Podiatrist

Taking proper care of your feet is one of the most important precautionary steps people with diabetes can do for their long-term health. That’s why primary care physicians will often recommend patients who have diabetes to visit a podiatrist regularly. If you’re wondering what the correlation between diabetes and foot care is, we can help to understand the connection. 

All diabetic patients should see a podiatrist, as a foot exam by your podiatrist can tell you if you are at risk for complications. In other words, every person with diabetes should pay careful attention to the areas of the body that diabetes can directly affect, including the heart (cardiovascular system), kidneys (renal system), eyes, and most commonly the feet. Therefore, it is recommended that every patient with diabetes have an annual checkup.

As far as the feet are concerned, people with diabetes can have severe, even life-threatening foot problems if left untreated. In other words, individuals with lifelong diabetes are at a higher risk for developing foot pain and discomfort.

The manifestation of foot ulcers and nerve pain is significantly higher among diabetics, greatly increasing their risk of undergoing amputation. This can happen due to the fact that diabetes can cause problems with the circulatory and nervous systems of the body. Essentially, diabetes can cause:

  • Decreased foot blood flow (circulatory problems)
  • Decreased infection fighting capability (weak immune system)
  • Numbness of the feet

According to research, each year more than 65,000 lower limbs are amputated due to complications from diabetes. By including a podiatrist in your diabetes care regimen, you can reduce the risk of amputation by up to 85 percent.

Podiatrists play an integral role in amputation prevention by performing regular foot screenings, for early recognition of diabetes related changes. The earlier any complications are recognized, the better the outcome and treatment will be. During your annual exams, a podiatrist will look for the following diabetes warning signs:

  • Dry cracks in the skin
  • Ingrown and fungal toenails
  • Numbness in the feet or toes
  • Open sores on the feet that are slow to heal
  • Swelling of the foot or ankle
  • Pain in the legs 
  • Skin color changes
  • Bleeding corns and calluses

Regularly visiting a podiatrist can help patients keep their foot conditions in check and maintain healthy sugar levels. A podiatry expert can offer them valuable advice about preventing foot complications by opting for comfortable and well-fitted footwear. These routine appointments also allow them to keep a tab on your foot health and catch symptoms early. With that said, having a podiatrist at your service, will reassure those with diabetes that they are in control of their health.

To learn more about why diabetics need to see their podiatrist on a consistent basis, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs at (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment online.

Questions to Ask Your Podiatrist

A podiatrist is a licensed health care professional who specializes in the care of feet, ankles and legs. A podiatrist is also a fully trained foot surgeon with a medical designation of DPM (doctor of podiatric medicine) instead of an MD (medical doctor). A licensed podiatrist can diagnose and treat medical conditions of the foot, ankle and related structures of the leg. Some PDM’s focus on one area of care, such as diabetic complications that affect the foot. If you visit a podiatrist, here are some questions you might want to ask.

Questions to Ask a Podiatrist

During your visit, the doctor is probably going to examine your feet as well as take a full medical history. This makes sense because the health of your feet is part of your overall health and wellbeing. This is especially true when you have other related medical conditions such as diabetes, poor circulation, nerve damage, kidney issues or previous injuries of the foot, ankle, or leg. Your podiatrist may also take X-rays, an MRI, and observe the way that you stand, run, or walk.

During the exam, you may have questions about topics such as foot pain, numbness, bunions, or other foot-related topics. Just as you would with any other health professional, it is always okay to ask questions when you do not understand something. You can ask what kind of tests the doctor is going to run to determine the underlying cause of your condition. You may also want to ask about the doctor’s experience treating your specific kind of issue. 

Ask if there is a medication that can help or if there are any advantages or disadvantages to the treatment they are recommending. You can always ask general questions too, such as what kinds of socks and shoes are right for you.

You can, for example, ask if bracing and rehabilitation can be used instead of (or alongside) surgery. You may also want to ask how to support your healing with exercise and diet, or ways that you can reduce your risk for re-injury in the future. Ask if the condition is chronic (ongoing) or acute (sudden), and if it’s possibly due to a medical condition or an injury. The kinds of questions you may want to ask the podiatrist will, of course, vary according to the specific issue that you are having treated.

Be sure to inform the podiatrist of any signs and symptoms that you are aware of. For example, if you hear clicks when you rotate the outside of your ankle, or if you are having numbness, tingling, or any other symptoms related to the care of your feet and legs.

If you, or a loved one is looking for exceptional care of the foot, ankle and leg, we are here to help. Please call the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment online. Don’t let foot pain get in the way of your busy life. Call today for a better tomorrow.

What can Your Podiatrist Do for You?

One-quarter of the bones in the human body are in our feet. In other words, the foot is a complex structure of 26 bones and 33 joints, with more than 120 muscles, ligaments, and nerves. Our feet have many benefits, as they support our weight, act as a shock absorber, serve as a lever to allow our legs to move forward, and help us maintain our balance.

During a typical day, the average person takes about 10,000 steps, which means that our feet support a combined force equivalent to several hundred tons every day, resulting in possible injury and pain. Statistics show that 75 percent of Americans will experience foot problems at some point in their lives. The question then arises, what can a podiatrist do for you?

What is a podiatrist?

Podiatrists are health care professionals who have been trained to prevent, diagnose and treat common conditions and injuries affecting the foot, ankle and lower leg. Depending on their credentials – such as certifications, state license, or hospital affiliation – podiatrists can perform surgery on the bones, ligaments, tendons and joints of the foot and ankle. Podiatrists treat many conditions related to the foot, ankle and leg, including:

  •  Bunions
  • Plantar fasciitis
  •   Morton’s neuroma
  •  Corn and calluses
  •  Heel pain
  •   Athlete’s foot
  •   Flat feet
  •  Sports injuries
  •  Hammer toes
  •  Ingrown toenails

When should you go to a podiatrist?

Foot and ankle problems can be due to chronic medical conditions like arthritis or diabetes, or from everyday situations, such as overuse or poorly fitting shoes. A person warrants a visit to the podiatrist if they are experiencing acute or chronic pain in the foot and ankle, or if they are suffering from an injury or condition, such as diabetes.  You should go to a podiatrist for the following reasons:

  • Runners: A podiatrist can examine your feet and address any potential problems, or provide tips to avoid them. They can also recommend the best shoe for your feet.
  • Joint pain: Arthritis is one of the most common conditions affecting Americans. If the joints in your feet are often swollen, red, stiff or tender, see a podiatrist.
  •  Diabetes: Diabetes makes you significantly more prone to foot problems. These issues can range from dry skin to serious infections. If you have diabetes, you should have a foot exam performed by a doctor or podiatrist at least once a year.
  •  The pain is limiting your activities: If you have persistent pain in your foot, heel, or ankle, see a podiatrist for a diagnosis. He or she will perform a foot exam and may take X-rays. A proper diagnosis is the first step toward developing a treatment plan.
  •   Ingrown toenail: When a toenail grows into the skin, the ingrown nail can cause an infection. Ingrown toenails most often affect the big toe. If a toenail is very red or has lots of drainage, visit a podiatrist for treatment.
  • Have a sprain, strain, or broken bone: If you are experiencing swelling, trouble walking, redness, and increasing pain, it is suggested that you see a podiatrist. Podiatrists are experts at treating sprains, strains, and broken bones in the foot or the ankle. They can diagnose your injury and suggest treatment.

If you are experiencing pain in your foot, ankle or leg, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050 to request an appointment with our podiatrist.

Podiatrist vs. Foot and Ankle Doctor

The human foot & ankle is a strong and complex mechanical structure that contain 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons & ligaments. The foot and ankle is one of the more complex areas of the human skeletal system, and obtaining expertise in this region of the body requires years of training, education, and practice. It is important to know the difference between a podiatrist and an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle, if you are seeking care for a foot and ankle problem.

What is the difference between a podiatrist and a foot and ankle orthopedic doctor?

One of the most significant differences between the two professions is the level of training each completes. As a medical doctor, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the foot and ankle has a better understanding of the entire body – including bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints – as well as medical conditions that may affect your overall health. Through this training, an orthopedic surgeon intimately understands the impact that the entire body can have on a foot and ankle condition.

Podiatrists provide a wide range of medical care, by evaluating, diagnosing, and treating common conditions and injuries affecting the foot, ankle and lower leg. Depending on their credentials, such as certifications, state licensure, or hospital affiliation, podiatrists can perform surgery on the bones, ligaments, tendons and joints of the foot and ankle. Podiatrists treat many conditions related to the foot, ankle and leg, including bunions, plantar fasciitis, Morton’s neuroma, etc.

If you have any more questions regarding whether you should see a podiatrist or foot and ankle doctor, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence to request an appointment.