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foot and ankle pain

Kick foot and ankle pain to the curb

Understanding foot and ankle pain

You use your feet and ankles every day — from walking and biking to running and hiking, you rely on them to carry you from point A to B. There are 26 bones and more than 30 small joints in your foot and ankle. And when a problem occurs within any one of those bones or joints, it causes pain that affects your daily life. 
Our orthopaedic specialists treat a range of foot and ankle problems, from sprained ankles to broken bones and chronic conditions that cause everyday pain. We can help you find relief from a wide range of foot and ankle conditions, including:
  • Arthritis
  • Ankle arthritis
  • Ankle fusion and replacement 
  • Achilles issues
  • Diabetic (Charcot) foot arthroscopy
  • Bone spurs
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Bunions (Hallux valgus)
  • Flat feet
  • Foot, ankle, arch and heel pain
  • Hammertoe
  • Ankle sprains and instability
  • Fractures
  • Tendinitis
  • Sports related injuries and fractures

Foot and ankle pain conditions

Overuse, injuries and chronic conditions can all contribute to foot and ankle pain. While anyone can experience foot and ankle pain, women are at a higher risk and certain injuries or conditions can worsen pain in your foot and ankle. These can include: 
  • Fracture: A foot or ankle fracture occurs when a bone is broken and causes instability in your foot or ankle.
  • Inflammatory arthritis: This form of arthritis occurs when joints become inflamed due to an overactive immune system. It is less common than osteoarthritis and occurs for most people later in life.
  • Osteoarthritis: The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis forms when the protective cartilage between your bones (which acts as a cushion) wears down.
  • Plantar fasciitis: When the ligament that connects the heel bone to the toes becomes inflamed and irritated, plantar fasciitis occurs. This is the most common cause of heel pain.
  • Sports injury: If you have injured your ankle or foot during a sport, it can cause foot and ankle pain which can come on suddenly or persist over time.
  • Sprain: A sprain occurs when the ligaments in your foot or ankle or stretched or torn, which causes pain or swelling in the affected area.

Diagnosing foot and ankle pain 

When self-diagnosing foot and ankle pain, there comes a point when you should reach out to a doctor for further diagnosis and treatment. If you have self-treated at home, including rest, icing and over-the-counter pain medication, you should reach out to a doctor after two to three weeks if your pain hasn’t subsided.
Our experienced team of orthopaedic specialists are experienced in diagnosing and treating foot and ankle pain. Tests to diagnose foot and ankle pain may include:
  • Physical exam – During a physical exam, your doctor will feel for any issues in the bones and joints in your foot and ankle. A physical exam may also involve your doctor watching you walk a distance to observe how your foot and ankle move, which can help pinpoint a diagnosis.
  • X-ray – After a physical exam, your doctor may order an X-ray, which takes a detailed image of the bones in your foot and ankle and can help to identify any issues within the bones.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – Your doctor may also order an MRI, which takes a detailed image of the bones and tissue in your foot and ankle, which can help your doctor identify issues like a sprain.
If you are experiencing excruciating pain or swelling, you have an open wound or signs of infection (redness, warmth, tenderness or a fever), or you are unable to walk, seek immediate medical attention.


What is the difference between a foot and ankle surgeon and a podiatrist? 

Podiatry is a specialty that focuses on the treatment of foot and ankle specifically through non-surgical treatment methods. Depending on the cause of your pain, a podiatrist may refer you to a foot and ankle orthopedic specialist. Our foot and ankle surgeons are specially trained to treat pain that occurs within the bones in your foot and ankle, and trained in surgery to treat the cause of your foot and ankle pain.

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Foot and ankle pain treatment

Our dedicated and highly trained team of orthopaedic specialists will quickly assess and diagnose the cause of your foot and ankle pain. From surgical to non-surgical treatment, they will work with you on a personalized treatment plan that’ll get you back on your feet as soon as possible. 

One or more of the following treatments may be recommended:
Medication

Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications (also called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs) to help you manage foot and ankle pain by reducing any possible swelling.
Surgery

A steroid injection can be used to treat inflation and joint pain. Your doctor may also prescribe an insole to wear in your shoes that can help relieve pain and offer extra support.
Non-surgical treatments

Our orthopaedic specialists work as a team to provide complete care before, during and after surgery. A range of procedures can reduce pain or help you stay mobile, such as:
  • Joint replacement surgery, which will replace your worn joint and can help restore mobility and functionality of your ankle.
  • Salvage surgery, which can help restore the functionality of your foot and ankle if they were damaged. This surgery removes only the damaged part of a bone and replaces it with a prosthetic rod or bone graft.
  • Forefoot and rearfoot surgery, which focuses on the part of your foot that is causing pain. This procedure restores functionality and reduces pain so you can get back to your active life.
  • Peripheral nerve surgery, which can address pain caused by issues with the nerve(s) in and around your foot and ankle. 

Orthopaedic care at Geisinger

  • Comprehensive orthopaedic care: From joint replacement, sports medicine and chiropractic care to a world-renowned spine surgery program, we offer unmatched expertise for orthopaedic conditions. Our team is experienced in treating a wide range of orthopaedic conditions ranging from bone and joint pain to injuries from sports, falls and fractures, and the wear and tear of daily life.

  • World-class care, close to home: With 24 locations throughout central, northeast and south-central Pennsylvania, our experienced orthopaedic team provides evaluations, consultations and comprehensive care. We offer leading-edge treatment options and tailored-to-you care backed by the expertise and innovation of a nationally-renowned health system.

  • Better, faster healing: We use tried and true methods to keep you on the path for healing, such as our ProvenCare® program, which identifies and consistently provides the best treatment for specific conditions. This means less time spent in the hospital and faster recovery.

  • Round-the-clock trauma care: As leaders in orthopaedic trauma, our orthopaedic surgeons are available around the clock when emergencies arise. Our specialized surgeons have completed advanced training in the treatment of trauma-related fractures and other injuries, so you can get advanced care when you need it most.

  • Orthotic care: Our orthotics specialists provide custom braces and shoes that help treat several types of foot and ankle pain, foot complications related to diabetes and more. Orthotics offer treatment devices for people of all ages and is just one of the ways we help runners and other athletes take care of their feet.

  • Orthopaedic urgent care – Our Orthopaedic Urgent Care locations are ready to treat children and adults when sudden injuries, like minor sprains, strains or simple fractures, occur.
  • Mako joint replacement surgery – As the sole provider of Mako® joint replacement surgery in the region, Geisinger offers Mako procedures at three locations:
Geisinger Community Medical Center
1800 Mulberry St.
Scranton, PA 18504

Geisinger Shamokin Area Community Hospital**
4200 Hospital Road
Coal Township, PA 17866
**a campus of Geisinger Medical Center

Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre***
25 Church St.
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18765
***a campus of Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center