An article published in “USA Today” this past week discussed the scary reality that many elderly patients will leave a hospital much weaker than when they arrived. Even though the patient’s original condition will be treated, the overall health of the patient may suffer from lack of physical activity. A similar concept can be applied to many treatments of the foot and ankle, in that even though a treatment may remove the original pain or deformity, post-treatment actions must be taken by the patient to ensure that they maintain optimum health and their condition does not return.
One condition that requires continued maintenance even after a pain-relieving treatment is plantar fasciitis. Stretching and orthotics are often suggested as the first line of treatment because they address the root of the problem. However, individuals with severe plantar fasciitis may find even stretching to be too painful and can receive steroid injections for more immediate relief. In plantar fasciitis, the fibrous band of tissue called the plantar fascia that attaches from the heel to the ball of the foot becomes irritated from having too much tension placed on it. Overpronation and equinus, or stiffness of the ankle, can add to the tension placed on the fascia causing its inflammation. Even though a steroid injection removes the heel pain of plantar fasciitis, the underlying causes of tension will remain and eventually allow the pain to return if they are not addressed. For a patient to get optimal results from their treatment, they should discuss a daily stretching regimen with their podiatrist that should be easier to adhere to after their pain has been alleviated by the injection. Simple stretches and custom orthotics will often relieve tension and thus the irritation on the tissue, allowing the patient to avoid recurrences of the condition.
This concept of stretching and physical therapy following treatment is often used following surgeries that actually have removed the underlying problem, including those performed to remove a bunion. While the bunion deformity is gone, physical therapy to get the toe moving after surgery can prevent complications down the road that may result from the prolonged inactivity of the toe following the operation. Bones and tissues that have been cut need time without bearing the weight of the body in order to fuse together properly. Unfortunately this period of rest that is necessary for bone healing may cause joints and ligaments to become overly stiff from the inactivity. Physical therapy can be used to remove or prevent any adhesions of tissues to one another that can lead to painful limitation of motion or even arthritis.
While for some patients, following a post-treatment schedule involving stretching, foot exercises and physical therapy may be difficult, other patients will struggle with the idea of doing as little as possible with their affected foot. Whether you are eager to return to sports practice, or someone who does not look forward to the idea of any sort of exercise, it is crucial to follow the treatment plan your podiatrist or other doctor has provided to you to completion for your best health possible!
Please visit www.ColumbusFoot.com for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.