Ankle and Foot Pain

Ankle & Foot Pain
Research consistently shows that the following contribute to most ankle and foot pain complaints:

  • Shoes with poor foot support or with a narrow toe box
  • Ankle sprains
  • Foot and ankle fractures
  • Ligament and tendon ruptures
  • Poor flexibility
  • Tight calf muscles

In general, a lack of hip and core strength and stability alters the way our foot hits the ground and can lead to abnormal mechanical stresses. Our bodies function best when we have the appropriate overall balance of strength and flexibility.

Common treatments for ankle and foot pain include the following:

Along with skilled manual therapy, individualized stretching and strengthening and patient education we may use taping to support the structure of the foot or reduce swelling, and we may suggest orthotic fabrication for long-term correction of weight-distribution during daily activities and/or sports performance.

Some typical ailments with symptoms resulting in ankle and foot pain are included below. We have found success in treating patients with these painful issues. If we can be of assistance in diagnosing and treating your ankle or foot pain, please contact us via email or by calling (303) 536-1949.

Turf Toe

Turf Toe describes a sprain of the ligaments around the big toe joint. It’s a condition commonly caused by jamming the big toe or repeatedly pushing off the big toe forcefully as in running and jumping.

As you propel yourself forward by “pushing off” with your big toe and allowing your weight to shift to the other foot, if the big toe for some reason stays flat on the ground and doesn’t lift to push off, you run the risk of suddenly injuring the area around the joint. This injury is most often seen as a result of playing on artificial surfaces.

The basic treatment for treating turf toe, initially, is a combination of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. It typically takes two to three weeks for the pain to subside. After the immobilization of the joint ends, some patients require physical therapy in order to re-establish range of motion, strength, and conditioning of the injured toe.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is a condition causing heel pain. You experience pain when you put weight on your foot—particularly when taking your first steps in the morning. The pain can be felt at the heel, or along the arch and the ball of the foot.

Plantar fasciitis is a common foot condition. It occurs in as many as 2 million Americans per year and 10% of the population over their lifetimes. Treatment generally reduces pain and restores your ability to put weight on your foot again. Achilles Tendonitis/Tendinosis may result from a combination of several different variables, including:

  • Ankle stiffness
  • Calf tightness or weakness
  • Abnormal foot structure or mechanics
  • Improper footwear
  • A change in an exercise routine or sport activity

Most often, Achilles tendon pain is the result of repetitive trauma to the tendon. This repetitive strain can result in chronic Achilles tendinopathy, which is a gradual breakdown of the tissue and is most often treated with physical therapy. Physical therapy promotes recovery from Achilles tendon injuries by addressing issues such as pain or swelling of the affected area, and any lack of strength, flexibility, or body control. When the condition remains untreated, pain will persist and may result in a complete tear of the Achilles tendon, which often requires surgery to repair.

Achilles Tendonitis/Tendinosis

An injury of the Achilles tendon, which connects the lower back calf muscle to the heel bone. The most common area to feel tenderness is just above the heel, although it may also be present where the tendon meets the heel.

It’s estimated that 24% of athletes develop the condition. Males experience 89% of all Achilles tendon injuries and an estimated 50% of runners will experience Achilles pain at some point in their running careers.

Achilles Rupture

If you overstretch your Achilles tendon, it can tear (rupture) completely or just partially. If your Achilles tendon ruptures, you might feel a pop or snap, followed by an immediate sharp pain in the back of your ankle and lower leg that is likely to affect your ability to walk properly.

You will likely need physical therapy rehab after an Achilles tendon rupture whether or not you have surgery. Rehab can strengthen the tendon and help the tendon heal.

Foot/Ankle Stress Fracture

A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone. These fractures are most often a result of overuse and are commonly seen with an increase in activity. Stress fractures occur most commonly in the weight-bearing bones of the legs when these bones are subjected to a new stress, such as a new exercise routine.

Additionally, bone weakness due to Osteoporosis may also place a patient at risk for stress fracture. Weak or soft bones may not be able to handle even the simplest of changes in activity and develop stress fractures. Any bones of the feet or ankles can be affected by a stress fracture.

Stress fractures are treated by resting the leg as much as possibl and the activity causing the stress fracture must be stopped for at least 3 weeks in order for the bone to begin the healing process. Our physical therapist can design a specific treatment program for you to follow at home to help speed your recovery.

Metatarsalgia

This is a painful foot condition affecting the bones and joints in the ball-of-the-foot area (most often just behind the big toe). Often this is accompanied by excessive callus formation over a bony protrusion, and there is severe pain and sensitivity to pressure around the callus.

Factors contributing to metatarsalgia include improperly fitting footwear or participating in high impact activities without proper footwear and/or orthotics. In older age, the pad in the foot tends to thin out making it much more susceptible to pain.

The pressure on the forefoot can be reduced by stretching exercises to perform at the level of the lower limb, amounting. Also custom-made orthopedic insoles can reduce pressure.
Sometimes, in very specific cases, an infiltration, followed by taping a few weeks, brings some comfort, also some mobilization exercises are recommend.

Broken Ankle

Ubrupt trauma to the ankle can cause a break in any or all of the ankle bones and significant pain usually results immediately after the injury. If you suspect you have a broken bone in your ankle, your first step should be to seek medical attention immediately. Failure to do so may result in significant loss of function. Common signs of a broken ankle include pain, swelling, bruising, and an inability to bear weight on the broken ankle.

A medical doctor will attempt to reduce the fracture by aligning the broken bones. This may require surgery if it’s necessary to hold the bones in place with metal rods and screws. Afterwards, the ankle is immobilized with a cast to allow the bones to heal properly.

Once your fracture is reduced and immobilized, you may be referred to physical therapy. Your physical therapist will help you to learn how to use your assistive device like crutches, a cane, or a walker and help you understand your weight bearing restrictions. After your fractured ankle has healed, your doctor will remove the cast and allow you to bear more weight on your ankle. At this point, your physical therapist can fully evaluate your ankle to help provide the proper treatment.

Bunion

A bunion is an irregular bony prominence (a bump) on the joint where your big toe meets the foot. The bump moves outward beyond the normal limits of where the joint should be and causes the big toe to bend toward the other toes and crowd them. Pain is caused by inflammation and the bone pressing against shoes. Bunions are more common in women who wear shoes that are too tight, or can be a result of abnormal motion (like dancers on point), poor foot mechanics, bone deformities, flat feet, and arthritis.

Treatment usually includes wearing shoes with a roomy toe box (you should be able to wiggle your toes and the shoe should be wide enough to accommodate the bony prominence without rubbing), padding, over-the-counter arch supports, orthotics, and taping by a physical therapist. Surgery is an option when conservative treatment fails and you have chronic pain.

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