There are not many people who would willingly stand at the point of a needle; our staff understands that shots can be intimidating and even, at times, painful. However, Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic uses injections as a valuable tool in a patient’s treatment to identify and resolve their foot and ankle pain. An injection’s wide range of alleviation includes joint pain (example), ligament pain (plantar fasciitis), and nerve pain (example). You may hear us say that the injection is diagnostic but also therapeutic. Diagnostic means that the poke and burn will subside and then let us know if we have identified the trigger point of a patient’s pain. Therapeutic means that we often use a corticosteroid in the injection which will fight the inflammation that is causing the pain.
Of course, a thorough examination is essential for an injection to properly work. Typically during this examination, we evaluate the foot and leg, write numbers down, ask questions, and have the patient rate their pain in order to find “the spot”--the root cause of a patient’s pain throughout. The physical examination along with x-rays and ultrasound imaging can help us pinpoint the issue and know exactly where to inject relief.
An abnormal foot position, poor shoes, or an injury can often cause inflammation and pain in a joint. An example of this could be the annoying pain that lingers after an ankle sprain. This may cause synovitis or inflammation in your subtalar joint but can easily be treated with a corticosteroid injection, followed with bracing and orthotics. If a patient is experiencing consistent ankle sprains, then there may be ulterior root causes and exploring ankle stabilization procedures would be highly beneficial.
Diagnostic injections can even help us find and diagnose nerve impingement. The swelling of nerves can come from a variety of different places. A pinched nerve in the back, nerve swelling caused by uncontrolled blood sugar, and even varicose veins can put excess pressure on your nerves which result in pain after physical activity, sleepless nights, burning and tingling feelings, numbness, and/or electrical signals that shoot up and down a person’s leg and foot. By utilizing physical examinations, ultrasound imaging, and x-rays, we can pinpoint the area of impingement and use an injection to provide welcomed relief.
The most common ligament issue that we see daily in our offices is Plantar Fasciitis. This is often described to us as heel pain, especially with the first steps out of bed in the morning. Chronic overuse, poor shoes, and a tight Achilles Tendon typically cause this type of pain. We closely evaluate this issue with a physical examination and then advanced ultrasound imaging in order to measure the size of a patient’s plantar fascial ligament. Through ultrasound technology, we can directly see how inflammation has thickened a person’s ligament which allows us to visualize the heel pain. We can then use an injection to see exactly where the needle needs to be inserted and effectively distribute the medication to effectively alleviate the pain. We do still recommend our patients to continue consistent stretching, use of over-the-counter inserts, or even utilize custom-designed orthotics so that the root problem does not return. Preventative measures are key to maintaining a healthy and pain-free body.
Through diagnostic and therapeutic injections, we can provide immediate relief to countless patients who are suffering with relentless pain. So the next time you see a needle in our office, we hope you can better understand the role it plays in getting you onto your next step.