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posted on: 6/19/2017 10:38:41 AM
Health & Fitness Guest Columnist
Eric C. Miller, DPM
Midwest Surgical Specialists - Podiatry
In this era of healthcare, people of all ages are taking a more active role in their well-being with exercising. They range from the young athlete, to the active millennial, to the weekend warrior, the couch-to-5K people or the active senior. However, foot and ankle pain conditions or injuries can still occur in all of these categories of people. These can include foot and ankle fractures, foot and ankle sprains, overuse injuries, exacerbation of an old injury, or flare up of an arthritic joint. Traditional conservative treatments consist of oral medication such as NSAID’S or acetaminophen, orthotic devices, bracing, steroid injections, immobilization and rest.
A more progressive and effective option is to eliminate rest. It has been stated “rest is atrophy.” Rest may help decrease ones’ pain but may not allow recovery to occur to the pre-injury level as quickly. This is where relative rest comes into play. Relative rest is a method to allow the patient to stay active without aggravating their condition. This may include cross-training activities. For example, a runner training for a race may not be able to perform runs 5-6 times a week. However, they can be restricted to running 3 times a week and supplement this with other activities such as swimming, biking or elliptical-type exercises on other days.
A relatively new conservative treatment for foot and ankle conditions are platelet rich plasma (PRP)injections. This consists of drawing blood from the patient and spinning it in a centrifuge. The product is then injected into the painful area. This can significantly improve the patient's healing and recovery time. In the past these were only used for professional athletes. Now PRP injections are being utilized for many patients with qualifying conditions.
Unfortunately, not all conditions can be treated conservatively. Foot and ankle fractures that require surgery can allow quicker recovery in some cases. With new advances and techniques in foot and ankle fixation, the patient's bones, tendons, or ligaments that are repaired are now more stable and allow for earlier range of motion and weight bearing. When surgery is performed on patients with an ankle fracture, it is not common to immobilized their foot in a splint rather than a cast. This allows the patient to exercise the muscle tendons of their leg as well as move the joints of the foot and ankle. This prevents decreased range of motion, stiffness and thus aids in quicker recovery. In my practice, it is not uncommon to treat athletes who have sustained a “Jones" fracture with surgery. My surgical technique allows the patient to get back to playing at 8 weeks as to opposed to missing half or all of their sports season.
Another common condition is arthritic joints. This condition could occur from a previous injury, a systemic disease that affects the joint or chronic wear and tear condition known as osteoarthritis. When these conditions failed conservative treatment and are affecting his or her activities of daily living, surgical intervention can be offered to get the patient back to their activity within reason. Traditional surgical options for arthritic joints consists of fusion of the affected areas. With the new fixation techniques utilized, patients can be weight bearing sooner than traditional methods. Since not all patients are the same as far as their goals, activities and demands, certain patients may be excellent candidates for joint replacement. Typical joints that are replaced in the foot and ankle consists of the great toe joint and now the ankle joint. These procedures allow joint motion to still occur.
The health of our feet and ankles is so important to our quality of life. If you have any symptoms causing concern, please let your primary care provider know. Today’s progressive treatment options allow patients to get back to their normal activities in a much quicker time frame than the traditional procedures of the past.
Eric C. Miller, DPM, Midwest Surgical Specialists-Podiatry is board certified in Foot Surgery and Reconstructive Rear Foot and Ankle. Dr. Miller’s areas of expertise include: surgical repair of foot and ankle fractures, sports medicine, pediatric and adult foot and ankle reconstructive surgery, diabetic limb salvage and reconstructive surgery. New patients of all ages are welcome.
Originally published in The Lima News Health and Fitness section.