Foot & Ankle
The Swedish Orthopedic Institute features some of the region’s leading orthopedic surgeons who specialize in foot and ankle conditions. These specialists are medical doctors who studied for five or six additional years after medical school and have completed a fellowship in the reconstruction of the foot and ankle. They are skilled in treating all problems of the foot and ankle, from the common to the complex.
There are a number of conditions that affect the foot or ankle. These range from congenital and inherited problems to those associated with overuse, injury or improper care.
Following are the most common foot problems treated by physicians at Swedish:
A bunion is a painful bump in the joint at the base of the big toe. Bunions can be inherited as a family trait, can develop with no recognizable cause or can be caused by shoes that fit improperly. There are several types of surgeries available to relieve pain and improve the appearance and correct the function of the foot.
Hammertoes have a permanent sideways bend in the middle toe joint. Treatment usually involves shoe inserts, pads or a better-fitting shoe to accommodate the deformed toe. If these do not work, a physician may recommend surgery to straighten the toe or remove the prominent area of bone causing the pain.
Morton’s neuroma is caused by a pinched nerve. The pain is usually felt between the third and fourth toes. Tight shoes can squeeze the foot bones together causing the nerve to form a neuroma (tissue buildup). Treatment usually involves wearing wider shoes and taking medication to decrease the swelling around the nerve. Surgery may be recommended to remove the neuroma if the other treatments are unsuccessful.
Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction
The posterior tibial tendon helps hold up the arch and provides support for walking. If the tendon becomes inflamed, overstretched or torn, loss of the inner arch may arise leading to flatfoot. Treatments range from rest and anti-inflammatory drugs, six to eight weeks with a rigid below-knee cast, custom-made orthotics or surgery.
Clubfoot is one of the most common minor birth defects in newborns. The heel and toes are forced inward and the clubfoot, calf and leg are smaller and shorter than normal. If stretching, casting and bracing are not effective, surgery may be recommended to adjust the tendons, ligaments and joints in the foot/ankle. This is usually done when the child is six to 12 months old.