The human body has an intelligent way of protecting itself from injuries, irritation, or invasive surgery—and it usually comes in the form of inflammation. This is easily seen in the foot and ankle area as a result of common injuries, like twisting the ankle, tearing a ligament, or undergoing surgery. As the body’s natural defence process transports blood to the area, an accumulation of fluid occurs, causing what is known as an inflammatory response.
Inflammation is typically characterised by several symptoms, including swelling, pain, and increased warmth and redness. Treatment of these symptoms may vary depending on where the inflammation has occurred. With the right physiotherapy procedures, one can treat inflammation in the foot and ankle nerves resulting from neuropathy and nerve entrapment.
Different Types of Inflammation
Different conditions will trigger one of two inflammatory responses: acute or chronic.
Acute inflammation occurs as an immediate response to trauma within the first few hours, which is the case with injury or surgery. On the other hand, chronic inflammation is a response to a long-term medical condition, such as arthritis. Seeing your foot and ankle doctor is essential to determine the cause of your inflamed tissue or nerves.
Foot and Ankle Neuropathy
Foot and ankle neuropathy is an example of peripheral neuropathy, which refers to damage to the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. People who experience neuropathy in different body parts will often experience numbness and pain, especially when the hands and feet are affected.
Since the nerves in the foot and ankle have been damaged, inflammation is a natural response to facilitate the healing and recovery process.
There are different treatment options available to alleviate the pain and discomfort of this condition that one can practice. Your treatment program will be personalised to relieve your specific symptoms and gradually restore movement. While surgery may be needed in severe foot and ankle neuropathy cases, they are always the last resort. Physiotherapy, which involves physical methods of treating different conditions, is typically used and is found to be quite effective.
Here are some of the common treatments for nerve inflammation in the foot and ankle.
Ice is typically the go-to treatment for any swollen foot or ankle. Applying ice to the inflamed area can facilitate nerve healing.
Sometimes nerves are inflamed because they are compressed. By massaging your ankle or foot, you can relieve the compression of the nerve and ease the pain.
To further reduce severe symptoms of inflammation, patients can take over the counter or prescription medications. Severe cases may call for cortisone injections to be administered to the affected nerve.
Trained physical therapists can give you strengthening exercises and help with stretches that can reduce stiffness, strengthen your muscles, and increase flexibility. Given the limitations of the pandemic, online physiotherapy consultations can allow the patient to do some of the stretches at home.
The last resort in treating neuropathy, surgery is only recommended if non-surgical treatments have been exhausted and are proven ineffective. Your physician will work to decompress the nerve or remove the damaged area, usually with minimally invasive techniques for less bleeding and faster recovery time.
Risk Factors for Foot and Ankle Neuropathy
Certain risk factors increase the chances of developing neuropathy and excessive inflammation of your feet and ankles. While some are out of the individual’s control, taking measures to prevent the other risk factors is possible.
To shed some light on it, here are some risk factors related to this condition:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Auto-immune diseases
- Family history of neuropathy
- Infections (Lyme disease, shingles)
- Injuries to the foot, ankle, or lower leg
- Repetitive movement of the feet ankles
- Vitamin deficiencies (B vitamins)
Inflammation may seem like an adverse reaction to injuries and surgeries, but it’s a positive indicator that the body is working to heal itself. Swelling, warmth, and redness all indicate that the build-up of fluid is transporting the needed white blood cells to facilitate the recovery of the affected area.
Foot and ankle neuropathy are conditions that cause inflammation and require treatment. With a combination of the right treatment methods and a cheap but reliable physio clinic in Brisbane, it’s possible to treat this condition without the need for surgery.