Your Foot and Ankle Conditions: What to Know about Treatments

May 21, 2024

A doctor examining a patient's foot and ankleThe joints of the ankle, midfoot and big toe are commonly affected by arthritis, making it difficult to walk and perform activities that patients enjoy, according to Richard Marks, MD, FACS, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Aiken Physicians Alliance Orthopedics and on staff at Aiken Regional Medical Centers. Common types of foot and ankle arthritis include osteoarthritis, or “wear and tear,” and posttraumatic injuries. Both cause the cartilage between the joints to wear away, decreasing the protective space between the bones.


Some initial treatment options include rest, immobilization, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy, says Dr. Marks, who specializes in conditions of the foot and ankle. Braces and/or shoe inserts may be prescribed to limit arthritic motion that creates pain, or to address angular deformities that lead to abnormal wear of the joints. Pain creams and injections may also be recommended.

“Arthritic pain that does not subside with rest and the use of anti-inflammatory medication should be addressed by an orthopedic surgeon,” says Dr. Marks. Likewise, “an orthopedic assessment is important to determining the appropriate treatment following an injury. If abnormalities are noted in gait patterns, these should also be addressed.” He recommends that you first consult with your healthcare provider. 

Surgical intervention

When patients fail to respond to these nonsurgical interventions, surgery may be recommended to help reduce pain and improve function and quality of life.

“Whenever possible, joint-preserving techniques are recommended, including decompression, joint resurfacing or joint replacement,” says Dr. Marks. “Resurfacing of the big toe is also a newer technology to help maintain motion of the great toe joint, avoiding fusion and helping to get patients back to an active lifestyle.”

“I use evidence-based treatments that include advanced techniques,” says Dr. Marks. “Surgery is individualized for each patient, with consideration for the patient’s other medical conditions, anatomy, expectations and lifestyle. I also advocate a shared-decision-making approach. Patients receive detailed information about their condition, surgical options, and the pros and cons of surgery and recovery. We follow the patient’s health journey until they reach their maximal improvement.”

Dr. Marks has extensive experience with the newest generation of ankle-replacement procedures. His research and outcomes studies are nationally recognized.*

*Marks RM: “Mid-Term Prospective Clinical and Radiographic Outcomes of a Modern Fixed-Bearing Total Ankle Arthroplasty.” Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery; 58(6): 1169-1176, October 2019.