Foot & Ankle

Non-Invasive Treatments for Foot and Ankle Conditions

Non-surgical approaches to foot and ankle problems are often successful for many conditions. The majority of foot and ankle problems can be treated without surgery. Sometimes, early nonsurgical treatment can eliminate or delay the need for surgery. Many problems are the result of sports injuries, and poor footwear choices. As our population ages and remains physically active longer, foot and ankle problems are becoming more common.

Non-Invasive Treatments may include a combination of:

  • RICE- rest, ice, compression and elevation to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Physical therapy
  • Steroid injections- to reduce pain
  • Medications- to ease pain, reduce inflammation and prevent joint damage
  • Orthotics- custom made shoe inserts to support the foot and modify the structure and function of the foot and ankle.
  • Lifestyle modifications

In most cases, conservative, noninvasive treatment will be tried as the first approach. When this is insufficient to restore function and relieve pain, or where surgery is necessary, surgery will be considered. Orthopaedic Specialists of North County offers comprehensive care for foot and ankle conditions. Our foot and ankle surgeons provide both noninvasive and surgical treatment and are dedicated to evaluating and treating your foot and ankle problems.

The ankle and foot are your foundation. The foot balances weight, provides balance and allows the ability to move from one place to the next. The ankle provides stability, shock absorption, propels the foot, and provides flexibility and resilience. When they don’t work together the result is muscle and joint pain, not only in the foot and ankle but throughout the body.

Foot and Ankle Anatomy

The foot and ankle combined have 31 joints and hundreds of muscles, tendons and ligaments. The bones can be broken or damaged by arthritis and osteoporosis, and the soft tissues can be torn, damaged, or traumatized resulting in foot and ankle conditions. Problems result from overuse, biomechanical insufficiencies, and structural defects. Flat feet and high arches commonly put stress on the foot, resulting in imbalance and the potential for injury.

Foot Conditions

  • Fractures
  • Hammer toes- a deformity caused by wearing narrow-toed shoes, or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Bunions- a deformity caused by wearing tight, narrow shoes or high heels. 9 out of 10 bunions are found in women.
  • Plantar fasciitis – is a ligament that runs the length of the sole of the foot and can become inflamed. People with inflammatory arthritis, obesity, high arches, or flat feet, are at risk for plantar faciitis.
  • Neuromas – caused by high-heels, tight, narrow shoes that irritate the nerves that lead to the third and forth toes, causing serious pain on the ball of the foot.
  • Gout- is a painful form of arthritis.

Ankle Conditions

  • Sprained ankle- when the ligaments stretch beyond their normal limits. They can be mild or severe and can tear the ligaments. A severe sprain or repeated sprains can cause chronic ankle pain and instability.
  • Fractures
  • Arthritis

Foot and Ankle Surgery

Traumatic injuries, fractures and dislocations may require surgical intervention. Severe and chronic pain, osteoarthritis, and prolonged stiffness and instability may also indicate the need for surgery.

New surgical techniques and technologies allow for smaller incisions (2-3 inches up to 6 inches) and shorter recovery times when open surgery is indicated. Joint reconstruction, severe fractures, and ankle/foot fusion often require open surgery. Open surgery for ankle fractures depends on the amount of dislocation of the bones, and the degree of ankle instability. Open surgery is typically done under general anesthesia.

Ankle Arthroscopy

The smallest possible incisions are made in the skin, and specially designed instruments are inserted to examine, diagnose and treat ankle conditions. It offers lower complication rates, reduces risk, and decreases damage to healthy tissues and structures, with minimal scarring and faster recovery. Rehabilitation is necessary to restore proper function. The objective is to get you back on your feet without pain.

Complications of foot and ankle surgery are typical of most surgical procedures: Infection, blood clots, wound healing issues, nerve damage, swelling, pain and delayed healing.

To determine the correct diagnosis and treatment, our board-certified foot and ankle surgeons at Orthopaedic Specialists of North County will evaluate your condition and recommend next steps. We will discuss your options, answer your questions and prepare you with the information you need to choose the best option for you.

At Orthopaedic Specialists of North County, we have been treating patients in Greater San Diego County including Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos, Escondido, Carlsbad, Encinitas, and Solana Beach, California since 1973. We want you to feel confident and comfortable that we will provide you with the best care available. Give us a call to schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping you get back on your feet.


"The entire team at OSNC is great, very professional and took the time to put me at ease. And I only have praise for the Dr. Erik Stark, a wonderful doctor who never disappoints!" Patient of Dr. Erik Stark
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