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Got a Foot Problem? Got a Cure 

July 9, 2016
Plain English Version


Surgery is no longer the first solution to foot problems.

Doctors say nearly all foot ailments can be treated without surgery. Among these ailments are bunions, plantar fasciitis, hammertoes and metatarsalgia (pain in the ball of the foot).

For example, an older woman developed a bunion. Her podiatrist recommended surgery. Surgery has its risks and may not cure the problem forever.

The surgery would have cut out part of a bone in her foot. She would have to rest and stay off the foot for eight weeks. She said her life was too active for that.

She had another choice, which was to wear wider shoes. She got custom foot insoles. She received an anti-inflammatory medicine. She received shock wave therapy. After six months of these alternative treatments, she said she felt “fully healed.”

People are living longer and are more active. They are walking on hard surfaces. Their joints are stressed. Obesity adds to the problem.

Foot insoles (orthotics) can help. A change in walking patterns may be helpful. They can be coupled with physical therapy. For many people, these may be the best alternatives to surgery.

Other new treatments include shock wave therapy for plantar fasciitis, tendinitis and shin splints. Ultrasound-guided injections may be a better option than surgery for problems such as arthritic big toes, ankle problems and heel pain.

Stretching to touch the toes, the Achilles tendons and the hamstrings can keep the body limber. Standing on one foot at a time strengthens balance. TheraBands are popular with athletes and dances.

Doctors say that about 90 percent of common foot ailments can be treated without surgery.

Source: The Wall Street Journal August 31, 2015

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