Get pain relief and restored function
Northwestern Medicine Orthopaedics provides specialized care for injuries of the foot and ankle, including the latest minimally invasive procedures. From evaluation to rehabilitation, skilled orthopaedic specialists* will guide your every step through a wide range of medical and surgical solutions for your foot and ankle issues,
Foot and ankle issues
Foot pain is often caused by improper foot function. Poorly fitting shoes can worsen and, in some cases, cause foot problems. Shoes that fit properly and give good support can prevent irritation to the foot joints and skin. There are many types of foot problems that affect the heels, toes, nerves, tendons, ligaments and joints of the foot.
Foot pain can be debilitating to an active lifestyle and can have many sources, from fractures and sprains to nerve damage. With 26 bones in a single foot, almost any of them can be broken. Many fractures do not require surgery, or even a cast, as they will heal on their own with some support. When a foot is fractured, the site of the fracture usually is painful and swollen. The site of the fracture will determine the course of treatment, if needed, including:
- Ankle joint fractures: These fractures may be serious and require immediate medical attention. Ankle fractures usually require a cast, and some may require surgery if the bones are too separated or misaligned.
- Metatarsal bone fractures: Fractures of the metatarsal bones, located in the middle of the foot, often do not require a cast. A stiff-soled shoe may be all that is needed for support as the foot heals. Sometimes, surgery is needed to correct misaligned bones or fractured segments.
- Sesamoid bone fractures: The sesamoid bones are 2 small, round bones at the end of the metatarsal bone of the big toe. Usually, padded soles can help relieve pain. However, sometimes, the sesamoid bone may have to be surgically removed.
- Toe fractures: Fractures of the toes normally can heal with or without a cast.
The symptoms of foot problems may look like other medical conditions and problems. Always see your doctor for a diagnosis.
An ankle sprain is an injury to the foot's ligaments in the ankle. Ligaments are tough bands of elastic tissue that connect bones to each other. Ankle sprains may occur if the ankle rolls, turns, or twists beyond its normal range of motion. Ankle sprains may be caused by awkward foot placement, irregular surfaces, weak muscles, loose ligaments, or wearing shoes with spiked heels.
The symptoms of a sprain will depend on how severely the ligaments are stretched or torn, but usually include swelling, pain, or bruising. Treatment will depend on the severity of the sprain, but may include:
- Resting the ankle
- Wrapping the ankle with elastic bandage or tape
- Ice pack application (to reduce inflammation)
- Elevating the ankle
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen to help reduce the pain and inflammation
- Gradual return to walking and exercise
- A walking cast (for moderate sprains)
- Surgery (for severe sprains)
- Physical therapy
In the spirit of keeping you well-informed, some of the physician(s) and/or individual(s) identified are neither agents nor employees of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare or any of its affiliate organizations. They have selected our facilities as places where they want to treat and care for their private patients.