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Should You See a Doctor About Your Foot or Ankle Pain?

If you're suffering from foot or ankle pain or are having trouble walking or putting weight on your foot or ankle, an orthopedic specialist can recommend treatment options to help you find relief. If left untreated, foot and ankle injuries can worsen, leading to other problems with your knees, hips or back.

We can help treat many common foot and ankle conditions, including:

Ankle Instability

A state in which the ankle joint is overly flexible, causing it to be more prone to sprains or dislocations. This can arise from a prior injury, overuse or weakness.

Cartilage Injury

Harm to the soft, slippery material covering the ends of bones within a joint, resulting in pain, swelling and stiffness.

Flat Feet

With this condition, the curves of the feet are flattened. This may cause pain, weariness and other complications.


A separation in a bone. This could result from a fall, sports injury or other impact.

Heel Pain

Can be caused by several conditions, including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis or a tension fracture.

Plantar Fasciitis

An irritation of the plantar fascia, a bulky cord of tissue that courses along the underside of the foot. This may trigger discomfort in the heel or curve of the foot.

Shin Splints

Pain in the anterior portion of the lower leg brought about by irritation of the muscles and tendons in the shin. This may be due to overexertion or improper footwear.

Sprains and Strains

Wounds to the ligaments and tendons that prop up the joints. Sprains are triggered by stretching or rupturing ligaments, while strains are prompted by stretching or rupturing tendons.


Should you talk with an orthopedic or podiatry specialist at Gadsden Regional Medical Center in Gadsden, AL, about your foot or ankle pain? Take our free joint pain quiz to find out.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What causes foot or ankle pain?

Approximately 75% of Americans experience foot or ankle pain at some point in their lives due to fallen arches, wearing the wrong shoes or other injuries. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics receives 50,000 reports of workplace foot injuries per year. Common foot and ankle conditions and injuries include:

  • Achilles tendon tears
  • Ankle instability
  • Arthritis
  • Bunions
  • Cartilage injury
  • Flat feet
  • Fractures
  • Heel pain
  • High arches
  • Morton's neuroma
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Shin splints
  • Sprains and strains
  • Stress fractures
  • Tendinitis
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What are some non-surgical treatment options for foot or ankle pain?

Physical Therapy - A physical therapist can develop an individualized exercise program that improves flexibility, strength, coordination, mobility and balance in addition to helping ease pain. A physical therapist also can teach you how to use assistive devices like walkers or canes, recommend support options such as braces or splints, and suggest modifications to your work environment.

Joint Injections - Joint injections may be appropriate in some cases. Injections deliver anti-inflammatory or lubricating medications to limit joint pain and swelling. Some common joint injections include corticosteroids, hyaluronic acid and prolotherapy, but your doctor will help you determine which injection, if any, is right for you.

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What are some surgical options for foot or ankle pain?

If you're experiencing foot or ankle pain that doesn't get better with more conservative methods, such as rest, ice, compression, elevation and over-the-counter pain medicine, your orthopedic or podiatry specialist may recommend that you consider having surgery. If surgery is recommended, your surgeon will discuss the next steps to help you prepare for the procedure. Foot and ankle procedures a doctor might recommend include:

Foot Procedures

  • Big toe surgery - Procedures range from removal of damaged bone and cartilage to replacement of a portion or all of the toe.
  • Bunionectomy - A surgery to remove a bunion and realign toes.
  • Foot fracture repair - Pins, plates or screws may be needed to maintain the proper position of bones in severe or complex bone breaks.
  • Foot reconstruction - Bones and tissue can be modified, removed, replaced or fused to ease pain and restore function.
  • Morton's neuroma surgery - Removal of a damaged nerve near the toes.
  • Plantar fasciotomy - A surgery to release tension in the fascia to ease pain associated with plantar fasciitis.

Ankle Procedures

  • Ankle arthroscopy - Minimally invasive surgery that uses a tiny camera and tools to examine or repair ankle parts.
  • Ankle fusion - A surgery to join or fuse bones together to ease pain and inhibit further damage.
  • Fracture repairs - Pins, plates or screws may be needed to maintain the proper position of bones in severe or complex breaks.
  • Tendon repair - Typically, a ruptured tendon, including the Achilles, can be stitched back together or replaced.

These surgeries can improve the appearance of the foot or ankle, help reduce pain, prevent worsening conditions or deformity and improve mobility. These procedures are also long-lasting - as many as 90% of total ankle replacement implants last at least a decade.

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Patient results may vary. Consult your physician about the benefits and risks of any surgical procedures or treatment.

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