Foot and ankle pain goes hi-tech

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Foot pain: Drs. Michael Lacey (left) and Michael Nirenberg, of Friendly Foot Care in Crown Point, use a hi-tech camera to help alleviate painful arthritis of the foot and ankle. | Supplied photo

Podiatrists Michael Nirenberg and Michael Lacey are now using a hi-tech camera to alleviate painful arthritis of the foot and ankle.

Arthritis in the foot and ankle is common, affecting millions of Americans each year. Drs. Nirenberg and Lacey are now using a hi-tech camera that literally helps “clean out” the arthritis from sore, painful ankles.

“Many patients think they just have to live with arthritis in their feet or ankles,” says Dr. Nirenberg. “This technology is an easy way to lessen the pain.” The treatment involves placing a tiny camera into the ankle joint through a small opening. Dr. Lacey explains, “the hole is so small we usually only need to use one suture to close it.” Once inside the ankle, the doctors often use special instruments to remove the painful arthritis. The patients can walk the same day and usually without the help of crutches or a cane.

“Before the procedure, people often have pain with every step,” says Nirenberg. “Sometimes it all starts with an ankle sprain.” Following an ankle sprain, scar tissue or osteoarthritis can develop within the ankle. Untreated, this pain can continue to worsen and in some cases can last a lifetime. After the camera cleans out the arthritis, patients often are not only pain-free but walk better. “They go from limping to actually walking,” Lacey says. “It’s really exciting to see people do so well so quickly.”

“This arthroscopic technology is not for everyone,” warns Lacey. There are many causes of ankle pain — torn or inflamed ligaments, arthritis, infection, gout, or even a fracture. “The first step is to thoroughly evaluate the patient,” says Nirenberg. “Sometimes one bad sprain can cause problems many years later.”

Ankle pain could be a sign something more serious is going on. In one unique case, a patient came in with ankle pain and Nirenberg diagnosed a tumor in the patient’s neck. A general surgeon removed the tumor from the patient’s neck and the ankle pain went away. “The tumor was beginning to affect chemicals throughout the patient’s body,” Nirenberg says. “It was a good thing we caught it when we did.” The case was published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association.

“The lesson is clear,” Lacey says, “don’t let ankle pain go — at a minimum you should get it checked out by a podiatrist.” Dr. Nirenberg adds, “Heel, foot or ankle pain are not normal and you do not need to live with it.” The public agrees: the podiatrists have been voted “Best Podiatrist” in the area for the last five years.

Drs. Nirenberg and Lacey practice on Broadway in Crown Point at Friendly Foot Care. For more information, call (219) 663-2273 or visit the website

By Amanda Torres, Community Correspondent