Cryosurgery has become more popular over the last few years for relief of painful foot problems. Now thanks to advancements in the technique, the procedure has become more accurate allowing more reproducible results with higher success rates than cryosurgery performed as recent as the past few years!
Dr. Marc Katz, a podiatrist and cryosurgeon in Tampa, FL, has pioneered new advanced techniques to improve the accuracy and results of foot cryosurgery. He has coined the CryoMax procedure which involves the use of a color power ultrasound for guidance to accurately target and treat the abnormal nerve. This doppler technology is different than the common black and white doppler imaging used by some cryosurgeons. The nerve and vessel structures can be identified with ease using the color doppler. Of course there is a learning curve which is fairly steep but the outcome is much more positive.
The most common foot cryosurgery procedures performed today do not use any visual guidance to place the cryosurgery probe. The area of foot pain is found by pressing points of tenderness on the foot and the probe is placed where the pain seems to occur. Dr. Katz does not like the random approaches of the past. The exact nerve branch needs to be identified. This can be accomplished with the use of the color power doppler and small amounts of anesthetic accurately placed. Dr. Katz stated that he developed this technique because of the need for better results with minimal discomfort. This is a much more scientific approach with better outcomes. Cryosurgery involves freezing of the nerves and without proper guidance the procedure may be hit or miss. Of course, no technique is perfect but he feels that CryoMax is far superior and he has the results to prove it.
Dr. Katz is one of a few podiatrists in the US to do the procedure. He has patients that travel from many cities across the US and he also sees patients from Canada and even other countries.
The most common cryosurgery procedures for foot pain are performed for neuritis or nerve inflammation, foot neuroma and all types of heel pain. Many other types of foot and ankle pain can be treated as well. The use of CryoMax has been an excellent addition to treatment options available. The need for more major traditional surgery has been mostly eliminated in Dr. Katz’s Tampa practice. Patients have been pleased with the fast healing and short recovery time. They walk out of the office after the procedure and take it easy for a few days. After about 24 hours a Band-aid is applied and the incision is so small there is no stitch. In some cases, the patient may require more than one treatment. However patients readily admit that they would repeat the procedure without hesitation for the relief.
So what exactly happens when a patient has cryosurgery?
The cryosurgery process is all natural. The cryosurgery probe causes the fluid in the tissues to freeze around the nerve. There is no chemical that goes into the foot and nothing is removed from the foot. The procedure can be done even if the patient has had prior treatments including traditional surgery.
Basically, super freezing is applied to the nerve that is causing pain. When controlled freezing and thawing occur, a portion of the nerve will breakdown. This causes a prolonged anesthetic effect and thus pain relief. This occurs because the pain signal to the brain has been disrupted. The physician can then address the underlying cause of problem and correct it to obtain more lasting relief. It is the natural course of healing for the body to attempt re-growth of the nerve. So many patients will receive custom orthotic arch support devices to realign the foot and ankle and allow healing without repeat damage to the nerve.
One major advantage of cryosurgery is that when the nerve heals and new growth forms, there is no occurrence of a stump neuroma. A stump neuroma is a disorderly growth of nerve tissue often resulting in chronic unresolved pain. Since the cryosurgical procedure leaves the outer coating or insulation of the nerve intact, the newly growing nerve has a pathway for orderly growth and allows pain-free regeneration.
Dr. Katz recommends this treatment to his patients before consideration of more invasive procedures including the removal of the neuroma, heel surgeries and soft tissue release procedures. I don’t compare cryosurgery to nerve removal or nerve releases procedures. It’s like comparing apples to oranges! I believe that the procedure should be tried because of its success and it may avoid the need for more risky procedures. This is a totally different approach to relieving pain and it is the future of pain relief. Katz says that if he can have a large percentage of his patients avoid a poor outcome it is certainly to the advantage of the patient. In addition, health care costs are decreased since a costly surgery center or hospital visit can be avoided because the procedure is performed in the office setting.
Cryosurgery is an excellent safe option for relief of foot and ankle pain. With advances in technology and technique, patients have additional choices available in their treatment regimen. The future of medicine is evolving into minimally invasive methods of treatment. Patients can now take advantage of this cutting edge pain relief technology.
Dr. Marc Katz is a Tampa Podiatrist that provides cutting edge techniques for relief of foot and ankle pain including Cryosurgery. Dr. Katz is Florida’s premier cryosurgeon treating neuroma’s, neuropathy and heel pain.