Richard Freeman, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Nuffield Health Tunbridge Wells Hospital, talks all things foot and ankle

How are foot and ankle conditions diagnosed?

The main diagnostic tool is the patient’s history of the injury/condition. A diagnosis is made by combining the patient’s explanation with a physical examination and if needed imaging and blood tests.

How can you relieve symptoms at home?

To begin with you may be advised to rest, ice and elevate your foot. You may also be recommended to stretch the affected area, however it needs to be the correct stretch, done in the correct way as I often see people who have been shown the wrong stretch and are effectively wasting their time. 

When should you seek the advice of a specialist?

Given the complexity of foot and ankle problems, it is often extremely difficult for your GP to diagnose a problem. If you have a foot and ankle complaint that isn’t getting better, ask to be referred to a specialist Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon.

How can I prevent foot and ankle injury?

Maintaining strength and flexibility is the best way to avoid foot and ankle problems, you can achieve this by keeping active, doing regular exercise and stretching, however if you already have symptoms of an injury exercise may make things worse.

How do I know if I have sprained or fractured my foot?

The main difference between a sprain and a break/fracture is the extent of the injury. A sprain affects the joints, whilst with a fracture the bone has been broken. Any injury that doesn’t settle should be reviewed by a foot and ankle specialist and not a podiatrist. Most sprains and simple fractures resolve in 6 to 12 weeks.

How long does an Achilles tendon take to heal?

The Achilles muscle group is often the cause of foot and ankle problems. The Achilles tendon does an incredible job of taking force so if your ankle is consistently giving way, you should seek advice from a foot and ankle specialist to avoid arthritis developing.

I have been told I have bunions. What are they and how are they treated?
Bunions are usually caused by a weakness in the small muscles of the foot. By wearing shoes, none of which are foot shaped, we deform and weaken our foot muscles. Bunions are caused by a joint instability or arthritis. Arthritic bunions are identified by a hard lump but relatively straight toes, whereas a bunion caused by joint instability will have a large angle at the main big toe joint.

Mr Freeman has regular clinics at Nuffield Health Tunbridge Wells Hospital.

If you would like to book an appointment with Mr Freeman at Nuffield Health Tunbridge Wells Hospital, then call 01892 888199 to speak to one of our friendly Customer Service Advisors.

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