If you are experiencing symptoms in your foot or ankle, such as pain, reduced function, or a skin or nail condition, a foot and ankle clinic can help. They offer a variety of nonsurgical and surgical procedures to diagnose, treat, and prevent a wide range of common and uncommon foot and ankle conditions to keep your feet and ankles in the best health possible.
There are a range of conditions that can affect the feet and ankles, from injury, deformity,and arthritis to infection and complications related to diabetes. Although your primary care physician may be able to treat your condition, a foot and ankle clinic has specialist physicians with the knowledge, skill, and training to effectively diagnose and treat a range of foot and ankle-related conditions and to help prevent problems in the future. The most common conditions treated by a foot or ankle clinic can include:
Foot and Ankle Injuries
Foot and ankle injuries, such as ligament sprains, muscle strains, tendon injuries, and fractures are especially common when playing sports. They can result in pain, inflammation, bruising, instability, and limited mobility and function, preventing you from carrying out your normal day to day activities. A foot and ankle clinic will carry out a thorough examination of your injury and may request diagnostic teststo confirm the type of injury, such as an X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound.The type of injury will determine the best course of treatment, which may include, rest, activity modification, splinting, casting, physical therapy, or surgical repair.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis to affect the ankle. It causes the protective cartilage that lines the joints to wear away, which can result in bone-on-bone rubbing, leading to pain, stiffness, swelling, tenderness, and reduced function in the joints. Following diagnostic tests to ascertain the severity of the arthritis, treatment may include pain relief medication, bracing, physical therapy, arthroscopy to remove injured cartilage or bone spurs, joint fusion surgery, or joint replacement surgery.
Some foot deformities may be present from birth, whilst others can occur over time or well into adulthood. Treatment may be necessary depending on the type and severity of the deformity. Bunions are a common deformity that cause the bones in the big toe and foot to change position. Hammer toe, claw toe, and mallet toe are other types of common foot deformities that affect the joints in the toes. Treatment may include bracing, physical therapy, or surgery to correct the deformity.
Flat foot is a common foot deformity that causes the arches on the inside of the feet to be flattened. It can occur because of abnormal foot development or may be acquired later in life, such as if the tendon at the back of the ankle becomes inflamed or torn. Flatfoot may be painless, but sometimes, it can put excessive pressure on other parts of the foot and may result in pain, spasms, and difficulty moving the foot up and down or side to side. Depending on the cause and severity of the flat foot, treatment may be necessary, which can include orthotics,physical therapy, bracing, or surgery to realign the bones.
Diabetic Foot Problems
Diabetes is a disease that causes elevated levels of glucose in the blood. It can cause a number of medical complications,including nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy), infections, and poor blood circulation,which can result in foot problems, such as foot ulcers or sores, deformities, and trauma to the feet.Peripheral neuropathy causes deterioration and damage to nerves and their function leading to a gradual loss of feeling and numbness in the limbs, primarily the feet. This can mean foot problems don’t heal well or can go undetected. Regular visits to a foot and ankle clinic can help treat any issues and prevent problems from developing in the future.
Skin and Nail Infections
Skin and nail infections can occur for a number of reasons, such as from a fungal infection or from bacteria getting into a wound or injury. Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, can also increase your risk of foot infections.
Infections such as warts and athlete’s foot are highly contagious.Plantar warts are caused by a viral infection and often develop on the heel or ball of the foot, which take the most pressure. They may go away without treatment, but can cause pain, and treatment to remove the wart may be recommended.
Athlete’s foot is a common and contagious fungal infection that can cause dry, cracked, and peeling skin between the toes and on the soles of the feet that may burn, sting, and itch. It may also cause an unpleasant odor. The condition can spread to the toenails, causing fungal nail infections, which can be unsightly and difficult to treat. Although there are over-the-counter treatments available, fungal infections can be difficult to treat and may require specialist treatment at a foot clinic to remove the fungus completely.
Ingrown toe nails occurs when the edge of the toenail grows into the skin surrounding it, causing tenderness, redness, and swelling around the corners of the toenail, which can cause the skin to become infected. Treatment can include foot soaks, medications, or specialist care to lift or cut the nail to allow it to heal better.
Foot and Ankle Clinic in Rhode Island and Massachusetts
If you have a foot or ankle condition, contact the Foot & Ankle Institute of New England for expert care. Our team of board-certified physicians provide diagnosis and nonsurgical and surgical treatments for a wide range of foot and ankle problems in people of all ages. Whatever your foot and ankle problem may be, we will work with you to find a solution that works best for you and your lifestyle.