Injections and Other Procedures

Below-Knee Amputation

The goal of amputation is to remove unhealthy tissue and create a remaining leg that is less painful and more useful. Just like many reconstructive orthopaedic surgeries, the surgical goal is to improve a patient’s pain and function. Amputation can improve quality of life for many patients.

A below-knee amputation (BKA) is an amputation often performed for foot and ankle problems. The BKA often leads to the use of an artificial leg that can allow a patient to walk. A BKA is performed roughly in the area between the ankle and knee. This amputation provides good results for a wide range of patients with many different diseases and injuries.

Bone Marrow Aspiration

Bone marrow aspirate concentrate is made from fluid taken from bone marrow. The bone marrow aspirate contains stem cells that can help the healing of some bone and joint conditions. Bone marrow aspirate concentrate is obtained with a minimally invasive procedure that avoids the risks of an open bone graft procedure.

Stem cells can be used to help with bone healing, cartilage repair and new blood vessel growth. Using stem cells may treat delayed union or nonunion of bone fractures, cartilage defects, osteonecrosis, chronic tendon problems, or chronic wounds.

You should avoid this method if you have an infection or cancer. Make an appointment with your foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon to discuss your options.

Brisement

Brisement is the injection of fluid into the space between a tendon and its lining, or sheath. This procedure breaks up scar tissue and stimulates healing of a tendon. While most commonly used for the Achilles tendon, brisement can be performed in any tendon of the foot and ankle.

CROW - Charcot Restraint Orthotic Walker

The Charcot Restraint Orthotic Walker, or CROW, is a rigid boot designed to accommodate and support a foot with Charcot neuroarthropathy (CN).

CROW consists of a fully enclosed ankle/foot orthotic with a rocker-bottom sole. It is a common treatment used to minimize further deformity and prevent ulcer development after acute CN has calmed down.

CN occurs when bones and joints in the foot fracture, break up or pop out of place with minimal or no known direct injury. In the United States, this deformity most commonly occurs in people with diabetes. The foot first enters an acute stage of swelling, warmth and redness, that can be mistaken for an infection. Broken bones and dislocations can occur, causing severe deformities of the foot and ankle. Some patients develop pain or ulcers when the affected foot becomes deformed. CN can affect the other foot or happen again in the same foot. The foot does not regain its normal shape. 

Distraction Arthroplasty

Distraction arthroplasty is a distraction (stretching out) of the ankle joint. The ankle is held in this distracted position for a period of time. This technique is used to unload the ankle joint and allow healing of the damaged joint. It may be recommended for a patient who has ankle arthritis.

The major goal of this treatment is healing of damaged tissue that occurs from arthritis. Distracting and unloading the ankle joint, along with the use of range of motion activity, is believed to help restore some of the damaged tissue in the ankle. With this restoration, a patient may be able to avoid or delay a more invasive procedure such as an ankle fusion or total ankle replacement. This allows patients to maintain motion of the ankle joint, which would be lost with an ankle fusion, and potentially avoid activity restrictions that may be necessary after an ankle replacement.

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy

Shock wave therapy is a non-invasive method that uses pressure waves to treat various musculoskeletal conditions. High-energy acoustic waves (shock waves) deliver a mechanical force to the body’s tissues.

Ganglion Resection

A ganglion is a cyst that forms on top of a joint, ligament, or tendon. The cyst is filled with fluid. Because the ganglion is not cancerous and may disappear in time, if you do not have symptoms such as pain, your doctor may recommend observation only to make sure that no unusual changes occur.

The procedure to remove a ganglion is called ganglion resection. The initial treatment of a ganglion is not surgical, but if pain becomes a problem, your orthopaedic foot and ankle specialist may recommend aspiration, a procedure to remove the cyst’s fluid through a needle. If the cyst returns, surgery to remove the ganglion might be an option.

Gastrocnemius Release (Strayer Procedure)

The gastrocnemius and the soleus are two muscles that make up the calf. The gastroc is the larger and more superficial of the two muscles. The soleus is a deeper muscle within the lower leg. The gastroc tendon combines with the soleus tendon to form the Achilles tendon.

Tightness in the calf can limit how for the ankle can flex up. This may make it difficult to walk with the heel on the floor. Over time this can cause problems such as pain and deformity. Calf tightness may contribute to many foot problems, including heel pain, Achilles tendon pain, flatfoot deformity, toe pain and bunions.

Hardware Used in Surgery

Many patients have questions about the hardware that is used in foot and ankle surgery. If you are having foot or ankle surgery, ask your physician if you will need implants like those discussed below.

Joint Injections

A joint injection is a procedure your doctor uses to introduce medication into a joint. The injection is done under sterile conditions using a syringe and needle.

The goals of a joint injection are to relieve pain and improve joint function. Your foot and ankle orthopaedic specialist also may confirm your diagnosis when giving a joint injection.

Orthotics

Orthotics, also called orthoses, are devices that are worn to relieve pain associated with foot and ankle deformities and help prevent or delay surgery. Most people think of shoe inserts or arch supports when they hear the word orthotics, but they can include devices such as foot pads, shoe inserts, ankle braces, and similar items. Treatment often can begin with less expensive off-the-shelf orthotics and progress to custom orthotics if the symptoms and diagnosis require it.

Plantar Fascia Injection

The plantar fascia (PF) is a thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes. It helps support the overall shape of your foot, especially when standing, and helps with shock absorption. Irritation and scarring of the plantar fascia, known as plantar fasciitis, is one of the most common causes of heel pain.

Ten percent of people have pain in the bottom of the heel at some point in their life. The most common cause is plantar fasciitis, which can result from overactivity, improper shoes, flat feet or excessive weight on the feet.

Proximal Tibial Bone Graft

Bone grafts may be needed for various orthopaedic surgeries of the foot and ankle. Bone grafts provide bony support and/or fill in areas where bone is missing. Bone grafts are either taken from the patient (autograft), or taken from a bone donor (allograft). The best bone graft provides enough bone and healing with minimal problems for the patient.

Proximal tibial bone graft (PTBG) is a type of autograft. The proximal tibia is the upper portion of the leg or shin bone that is just below the knee joint. Getting bone graft from this body part usually is less painful than from other areas like the pelvis.

Regional Anesthesia

Regional anesthesia makes a specific body part numb so that surgery can be performed. The goals are to make the foot and ankle numb during surgery and relieve pain after surgery. This helps patients need less medicine during and after surgery. 

Regional anesthesia may be considered for almost any surgery of the foot and ankle. It is not allowed in patients with certain medical conditions like blood clotting problems or active infections. Some surgeons prefer their patients not have this type of anesthesia. 

Removal of Hardware

Many foot and ankle procedures require insertion of metal plates, screws, rods or similar implants for stabilization of the bones while they heal. There are a number of reasons why a foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon will chose to remove this hardware. Hardware can be removed if it is painful, associated with an infection, or if your bone didn’t heal as hoped, which may require new hardware to be placed.

The goal of the procedure is to safely remove the hardware without causing damage to the surrounding soft tissues. These tissues often are scarred from previous surgery. Nerves and blood vessels and other soft tissue structures in this area may be at greater risk than at the time of the original surgery. A larger incision than the original surgical incision may be required to safely remove the hardware.

Syme Amputation

A Syme amputation is an amputation done through the ankle joint. The foot is removed but the heel pad is saved so the patient can put weight on the leg without a prosthesis (artificial limb). The goals of a Syme amputation are to remove diseased tissue or a non-usable foot and create a functional, painless limb.