Degenerative Disease

What are Degenerative Foot/Ankle Diseases? 

Degenerative Foot/Ankle Diseases are conditions that cause pain and discomfort of the foot and ankle due to the deterioration of the cartilage or other soft tissue structures within the foot. These can include Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Plantar Fasciitis,  Tendonitis, Bunions, Hammertoe and Neuromas (ie; Morton’s Neuroma) which results from nerve cell inflammation. 

Who is at risk of developing Degenerative Foot/Ankle Diseases?

 Individuals with diabetes, neurological disorders, circulatory problems, arthritis, and other skeletal-muscular problems may be at risk of developing degenerative foot diseases. Older adults may also be at risk due to diminished sensation, the inability to remain active or follow a treatment plan, and age-related changes in the feet.

Types of Degenerative Foot/Ankle Diseases include:

  1. Osteoarthritis 
  2. Rheumatoid Arthritis 
  3. Plantar Fasciitis 
  4. Achilles Tendinitis 
  5. Morton’s Neuroma 
  6. Diabetic Foot 
  7. Bunions 
  8. Ankle Sprains 
  9. Flat Feet 
  10. Hammertoe

Symptoms often include:

  • Pain and stiffness 
  • Swelling in and around the ankle joint 
  • Difficulty walking or standing and decreased mobility 
  • Difficulty flexing the foot and toes, especially when flexing upward 
  • Weakness or numbness in the foot and ankle 
  • Limited ability to bear weight 
  • Changes to the texture, shape and size of the foot or ankle 
  • Difficulty wearing certain types of shoes 
  • Pain when placing pressure directly on the affected area 
  • An ankle joint feeling unsteady
  • Foot deformities such as claw toe or hammer toe

Understanding Risk Factors for Developing Degenerative Foot/Ankle Diseases 

  • Increasing age 
  • Poor diet 
  • Obesity 
  • Unsafe footwear 
  • Poor foot care/hygiene 
  • Chronic foot trauma 
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking 
  • Physical inactivity 
  • Genetics 
  • Neuromuscular disorders 
  • Abnormal foot structure 
  • Reduced blood supply to the feet 
  • Repetitive activities that strain the ankles

Managing Pain and Discomfort Caused by Degenerative Foot/Ankle Diseases 

  1. Wear comfortable shoes – Choose supportive shoes with good cushioning and arch support, and replace them when you notice any signs of wear and tear. 
  2. Do at-home exercises – A podiatrist can provide guidance on exercises that can help stretch and bolster the muscles in and around your ankles and feet. 
  3. Take medication if necessary – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) sold over the counter can aid in pain relief and inflammation reduction. (Note: As directed by your healthcare professional).
  4. See a specialist – A foot and ankle specialist visit can help identify any underlying causes of pain and determine an effective treatment plan. 
  5. Invest in suitable orthotics – Custom orthotics can help relieve pain by redistributing pressure within the feet. 
  6. Practice good foot hygiene – Make sure to keep your feet clean and dry, and avoid using alcohol-based products excessively. 
  7. Wear protective gear – Wraps, braces, or splints can help support and stabilize the affected areas. 
  8. Heat and ice therapy – Applying a warm compress to the affected area can help relax the muscles and reduce discomfort, while an ice pack can help reduce swelling. 

The Impact of Exercise on Degenerative Foot/Ankle Diseases 

The impact of exercise on degenerative foot and ankle diseases is potentially significant. It has been demonstrated that exercise lowers inflammation and can help maintain a healthy range of motion in the affected joints. Regular, low-impact exercise like walking, swimming, and cycling can help support the integrity of joints. 

Additionally, exercises that strengthen the muscles surrounding the supporting structures of the feet and ankles may reduce pain and help improve function. 

 Finally, strength training can help reduce the risk of certain degenerative diseases by increasing bone density and strengthening the supportive structures around the joints.

Latest Research and Developments in Treating Degenerative Foot/Ankle Diseases 

  1. Robotic Surgery: Robotic surgery for ankle and foot conditions is an emerging technology. Robots enable surgeons to perform complex operations with greater precision and accuracy and less invasiveness and recovery time than traditional surgery. With robotic technology, the surgeon has greater control and range of motion and can conduct surgery more accurately while minimizing tissue damage and restoring function. 

  2. Nanotechnology: Nanotechnology is being studied as a possible solution to treating degenerative foot and ankle diseases. By using nanotechnology to deliver drugs to targeted body parts with more accuracy and increased potency, treatments are believed to be improved. Additionally, nanotechnology offers new opportunities for detecting and diagnosing ankle joint conditions. 

  3. Stem Cell Therapy: Stem cell therapy has begun to be explored as a possible treatment for degenerative foot and ankle conditions. Often, these conditions are caused by an inadequate blood supply, decreased range of motion, and painful joint deformities, which can be treated with stem cell therapy. By administering stem cells directly to the affected body area, it may be possible to repopulate damaged areas to restore function. 

  4. Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy: Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy has become a popular alternative to traditional treatment options for degenerative foot and ankle diseases. Through PRP injections, the body can use its own growth factors to promote healing, reduce pain, and improve the range of motion. This treatment is generally considered safe and effective, with minimal risk of side effects.

Exploring Alternative Treatment Options for Degenerative Foot/Ankle Diseases 

Degenerative foot and ankle diseases can be highly debilitating without the proper treatment. Various treatments have been identified to help manage the condition and relieve sufferers. These treatments include non-surgical interventions such as physical therapy, medication and lifestyle modifications. Some individuals may also consider alternative treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, herbal remedies, reflexology and ultrasound therapy. It is crucial to determine what works best for each individual, depending on the severity and progression of the condition. 

Physical therapy: can help improve mobility and lower pain levels. Podiatrists can work with patients to strengthen and stretch specific muscles and improve their range of motion and overall foot health. Podiatrists can provide targeted exercises and customized treatment plans to assist with the degenerative process. Exercise can help reduce inflammation and improve general foot and ankle health.  

Medication: Over-the-counter and prescription medications can manage pain and inflammation. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to reduce inflammation and pain. Additionally, corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and provide relief. (Note: Consult with your healthcare provider) 

Lifestyle Modifications: Patients need to reduce their risk for future problems. This includes exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and wearing properly fitted shoes. Orthotic devices can be used to assist with reducing pressure on certain parts of the foot and improve foot alignment. 

 Acupuncture: Acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat pain and other medical conditions. Points on the body are injected with tiny needles. To reduce inflammation and stimulate healing. 

 Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic care can help improve joint function, reduce pain and improve flexibility. The range of motion can be increased, inflammation can be reduced, and muscles can be strengthened with manipulation and manipulation-directed activities.

 Herbal Remedies: Herbs such as arnica and comfrey have been used in traditional medicine to reduce pain and inflammation. Some individuals report reduced pain and improved mobility when using herbal remedies. 

Herbs can have side effects, so it's important to remember that they should only be consumed under the guidance of a trained healthcare professional.

Reflexology: Reflexology is based on the idea that pressing on specific points on the feet can help relieve pain and bring the body's balance back. Reflexology is based on the idea that pressing specific points on the feet can help relieve pain and regain the body's balance. Sessions typically involve techniques such as rubbing, kneading, and pressing specific points on the feet. 

 Ultrasound Therapy: Ultrasound therapy involves using a machine that emits sound waves to reduce inflammation and increase blood flow. This can help reduce pain and improve overall foot health.

Planning Your Next Visit With Greenberg Podiatry

Regular checkups with Greenberg Podiatry will ensure that potential issues are caught early and treated before they become more severe and require more intensive care. So don't put it off until it's too late; schedule an appointment with Greenwood Podiatry in Ottawa right away for sound advice on organizing your upcoming visit!