There are many problems that can cause mild to severe foot pain in your foot arch, heel and toes. Early diagnosis is key to effective treatment! Non-specialists are not proficient with diagnosing the underlying causes of foot pain. Therefore, it is extremely important to see a foot and ankle specialist in order to arrive at the proper diagnosis. Your foot and ankle specialists may use a number of different diagnostic modalities in order to determine the cause of your foot pain problems. After the cause of your foot pain has been identified, your podiatrist can recommend a treatment plan to get you back on your feet.
Pathology and Lab Studies for Foot Pain
As with most medical conditions, certain laboratory studies such as blood work may aid your doctor with the underlying diagnosis of foot pain. Foot specialists often look for signs of infection or inflammatory conditions, different types of arthritis and many other conditions by ordering blood studies. Also, joint fluid analysis, skin or other tissue biopsies can be extremely helpful to diagnose the cause of foot pain. At Certified Foot and Ankle Specialists, we have our own Pathologist on staff who specializes in skin and other conditions of the lower extremity. This makes collaboration between your foot doctor and the Pathologist a natural daily process and can accelerate proper diagnosis and treatment.
Imaging for Foot Pain
At Certified Foot and Ankle Specialists, we emphasize the use of cutting edge, specialized technology when it comes to imaging of the foot and ankle. Therefore, we have x-ray machines in every office which provide weight bearing images. Again, this is something that foot specialists are adamant about that non-specialists don’t understand. We want to see the foot in a functional, weight bearing state in order to properly diagnose the foot pain problem. We also have ultrasound in every office for diagnosing soft tissue pathology. The C Scan is our foot and ankle specific MRI which does not require the patient to go into a full body tube. Certified Foot and Ankle Specialists, LLC is also the only group in Palm Beach, Broward or Martin Counties to have the Ped CAT which is a weight bearing CT scanner. This is latest and most accurate equipment available for diagnosing foot and ankle injuries or other conditions. All of our images are read by Board Certified Radiologists specializing in the foot and ankle.
Your foot and ankle specialist might use local anesthetic injections carefully placed in certain joints or around specific nerves in the foot or leg in order to determine the exact source of pain. Again, non-specialists are not familiar enough with the intricate anatomy of the foot and ankle which is required to successfully perform these injections. When administered in or around a joint or nerve, if the pain is temporarily relieved, this is confirmation that the particular structure in question is the underlying problem causing the foot pain. This guides your foot and ankle surgeon to the right treatment or surgical procedure.
Foot Pain Diagnosis
The first step in diagnosing the cause of a foot pain problems is a careful history from the patient. A good test foot and ankle doctor will ask questions related to the nature, duration, location, onset and type of pain that you are experiencing. They may also ask if there was any unusual event that led up to this painful condition and if you’ve done anything which successfully relieved the pain. All of this information can your foot specialist arrive at the proper diagnosis.
The next step in diagnosing foot pain is a thorough physical exam. Your doctor will use his or her hands to touch your feet, press on certain areas – like your foot arch – to illicit pain, assess range of motion, muscle strength, sensation, and circulation. An adept doctor will also watch you walk because certain gait types may result in foot pain. Anyone other than a foot and ankle specialist will not be trained properly in gait evaluation, and therefore it is most important to see a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of the foot, ankle and lower leg, or a Podiatrist.
Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
The most severe painful condition of the foot and ankle is CRPS or RSD. This is an abnormal pain pathway which results in constant pain stimuli being produced without provocation. CRPS/RSD can happen following trauma or surgery and can be debilitating.
Fortunately, in many cases CRPS/RSD is misdiagnosed and the pain is actually being caused by nerve entrapment. With our advanced training in peripheral nerve surgery, the surgeons at Certified Foot and Ankle Specialists can often identify the site of nerve injury and surgically reverse the symptoms of “CRPS or RSD”. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with CRPS or RSD in the foot, ankle or lower leg, make an appointment with our foot and ankle clinic as soon as possible.
As you can see, the foot and ankle is a highly specialized structure. There are many modalities available to diagnose foot pain but it is of utmost importance to see a foot and ankle specialists in order to arrive at the proper diagnosis. Again, early diagnosis is the key to effective treatment. Do not waste time with a non-specialist. See the doctors at Certified Foot and Ankle Specialists who are the only group in the area with the most advanced diagnostic capabilities.