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Care and Treatment for Foot & Ankle Problems

Why Choose Treatment for Foot & Ankle Problems at University of Colorado Hospital?

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Call one of our clinics:

  • Podiatry at (720) 848-2785
  • Orthopedics at (720) 848-1900

You can also submit an online form

University of Colorado Hospital provides the most up-to-date treatment available for foot and ankle problems.

Podiatrists at the UCH Podiatry Clinic provide quick and easy referrals to other specialists for patients who require further treatment.

Common Foot, Ankle & Toe Problems

Each year in the U.S., people make more than 10 million visits to their doctors for feet, ankle and toe problems.

Common ailments include:

  • Ankle sprains
  • Achilles tendon injuries
  • Overuse injuries, which can cause muscle and tendon strains and stress fractures
  • Shin splints (stress fracture of the shin bone, or tibia)
  • Athlete’s foot – a foot infection caused by fungus
  • Bunion – a bump on the outside of the big toe caused by joint enlargement
  • Corn – a buildup of thick skin on the foot or between the toes
  • Hammer toe – downward curling of a toe
  • Plantar warts – hard skin growths on the bottom of the foot

Patient Education

Living With Foot Injuries & Disorders

The foot has 26 bones and more than 30 joints, so many things can go wrong with it. If you experience persistent pain in your feet or ankles, it is important to treat it promptly. Your primary care doctor may refer you to a podiatrist for care.

 

If you have diabetes, it is especially important that you take care of your feet and seek care when you need it. Diabetes can cause nerve damage in the feet and other parts of the body. Because of the loss of feeling, you may develop sores or blisters. If these are not treated, they can become skin ulcers.

 

Getting a Second Opinion about Foot Injuries & Disorders

Patients are always encouraged to seek a second opinion, especially when surgery is recommended.

 

Additional Resources for Foot Injuries & Disorders

University of Colorado Department of Orthopaedics

Podiatry Clinic at UCH

Medline Plus

Tests and Treatments

Tests

  • History and Physical Examination. Your doctor will ask you questions about your daily activities and previous injuries and illnesses. He or she will also test your range of motion and feel the area that is painful in order to pinpoint the source.
  • X-rays. An X-ray examination helps to show breaks or defects in the bones of the foot and ankle.
  • Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan. A CT scan shows damage to muscles and other soft tissues.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). An MRI test shows three-dimensional pictures of the muscles and other soft tissues.
  • Bone Scan. A bone scan uses an injection of radioactive material, which attaches to the bone. The material reveals spots where bone has broken down or fractured.

 

Treatment

You will be able to self-treat many foot and ankle conditions. Conservative treatment includes:

  • Resting the area that is sore
  • Applying ice packs and compression to reduce swelling
  • Elevating the foot or ankle to relieve pressure
  • Taking a break from activities, such as running, that are causing pain
  • Performing stretching exercises to loosen tight muscles, tendons and ligaments
  • Taking pain medication to reduce inflammation and soreness
  • Massaging feet and ankles to increase circulation
  • Changing shoes that do not fit properly
  • Wearing specialized footwear (orthotics) to correct misalignments in the foot

 

Your doctor may recommend other nonsurgical treatments for problems that persist. These include:

  • Walking casts or crutches to reduce the stress of movement
  • Steroid injections to reduce inflammation and relieve pain
  • Injections of freezing liquid to remove warts
  • Trimming of sore corns

 

Surgical Options

Serious foot and ankle injuries or painful conditions may require surgery. There are many surgical procedures used to treat these problems, including:

 

  • Ankle Arthrodesis. Arthrodesis, also called ankle fusion, is used to treat degeneration in the joint of the ankle caused by arthritis or by injury. Your surgeon first removes the cartilage in the joint, then places the ankle bones together. The bones are secured with screws or other devices. Over time, the bones knit together into one structure.
  • Ankle Arthroplasty. Ankle arthroplasty, also called total ankle replacement, replaces a damaged ankle joint. Doctors remove the joint and replace it with mechanical parts that function as a new joint. The new joint is surgically attached to the main ankle bone (talus), the lower leg bone (fibula) and the shin bone (tibia).
  • Osteotomy. An osteotomy is used to cut or remove bone that is misaligned, deformed or damaged. For example, an osteotomy may be needed if bones in the ankle or foot have healed crookedly. It is also used to repair damage caused by osteoarthritis (pain and swelling in the joints).
  • Tendon Repair. Tears of the Achilles tendon, which attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone, are repaired in one of two ways. If the tendon has pulled off the bone, it is reattached. If it has snapped, the surgeon sews the ends together.

Your Medical Team

University of Colorado Hospital has a variety of specialists qualified to treat foot, ankle and toe conditions and injuries.

 

Foot Specialists

 

Podiatrist. A doctor who is trained to diagnose, prevent and treat foot and ankle disorders.

Physiatrist. A doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Orthopedic Surgeon. A doctor who specializes in performing surgery on the muscles, bones, joints, and related structures.