To help relieve symptoms, the surgeon may begin treating osteoarthritis with one or more of the following nonsurgical approaches:
When Is Surgery Needed?
- Oral medications - Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, are often helpful in reducing the inflammation and pain. Occasionally, a prescription for a steroid medication is needed to adequately reduce symptoms.
- Orthotic devices - Custom orthotic devices (shoe inserts) are often prescribed to provide support to improve the foot’s mechanics or cushioning to help minimize pain.
- Bracing - Bracing, which restricts motion and supports the joint, can reduce pain during walking and can help prevent further deformity. Immobilization. Protecting the foot from movement by wearing a cast or removable cast-boot may be necessary to allow the inflammation to resolve.
- Steroid injections- In some cases, steroid injections are applied to the affected joint to deliver anti-inflammatory medication.
- Physical therapy - Exercises to strengthen the muscles, especially when osteoarthritis occurs in the ankle, may give the patient greater stability and may help him or her avoid injury that might worsen the condition.
When osteoarthritis has progressed substantially or has failed to improve with nonsurgical treatment, surgery may be recommended. In advanced cases, surgery may be the only option. The goal of surgery is to decrease pain and improve function. The foot and ankle surgeon will consider a number of factors when selecting the procedure best suited to the patient’s condition and lifestyle.