Common Foot and Ankle Injuries and How to Treat Them
Foot and ankle pain and injuries are some of the more common reasons why we see patients.
You have 26 bones and 33 joints in your foot, so it’s no wonder why this area seems to give a lot of people issues, both younger and older. Many people will feel a slight pain in their foot or ankle but wait for it to go away. Sadly, as much as you’re up on your feet during the day (even for people that work at a desk) you’re still constantly putting pressure and activity down there, so it takes longer to heal. Often it will get worse and then you have a bigger issue.
Let’s go over some of the most common things we see and some tips to avoid them:
Plantar fasciitis: This is incredibly common and cause heel pain. This happens when the plantar fascia, which is a band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes, becomes swollen or irritated. It can feel worse after prolonged periods of rest, like first thing in the morning when you get out of bed, or when going up stairs, and typically it can get better as you are active.
Treatment: While there is no cure for plantar faciitis, giving your feet a break is the first order of business, which sounds strange considering it can feel worse after resting. We like our patients to also go through a routine of stretching the area which we go over. If you think you may be suffering from plantar faciitis, please give us a call at 540-552-7133 or Request an Appointment here.
Achilles tendonitis. We see this mainly with overuse. Achilles tendonitis is the swelling of the Achilles tendon, which travels from the heel to the calf muscle. Not enough warm up or stretching before and after physical activity, wearing improper shoes or high heels, or simply having flat feet or fallen arches are all common causes of Achilles tendonitis. Pain is usually mid to mild for this, but if left untreated, or if you try to continue being active, you risk a tendon tear, which is extremely painful.
Treatment: If you give it the time and rest it needs, Achilles tendonitis will heal on its own, but make sure to see a Sideline physician to determine the extent of the injury and how to best treat it. We will then help you determine the best way to proceed, which could include rest or the use of crutches to keep your weight off the injury.
Stress fracture. Stress fractures are small cracks that develop in the bones of the feet, ankle and legs. For active individuals, they are most often caused by overuse in high-impact sports like distance running or any sport where your feet are constantly hitting the ground hard. Worn out, unsupportive shoes as well as a sudden increase in physical activity might also be to blame. The most common locations of stress fractures are in the foot, and the bone at the top of the foot called the navicular. Many people also get these in their shins as well. Pain from stress fractures will most likely develop gradually, increasing the more you are on your feet and decreasing when at rest. Also look for swelling and bruising at the site of the pain.
Treatment: Rest is essential! Ignoring the pain could cause more serious injury, including a complete break of the stress-fractured bone. See us today to determine the exact location of the stress fracture; treatment varies depending on the severity and location of a stress fracture, as they vary in severity and treatment options.
Turf toe. Common in athletes, mainly football players, turf toe is a sprain of the ligaments surrounding the big toe. It’s caused by a hyperextension of the toe or bending back of the toe beyond the point of normal movement. Pain, swelling and limited movement of the big toe are all indicators of turf toe.
Treatment: As with many overuse injuries, rest is best. Depending on the severity of the injury, your Sideline doctor might recommend immobilization, either by taping the injured toe to another to relieve the stress on the joint or the use of a cast or boot.
Ankle sprain. With the ice and snow coming soon, ankle sprains are most common in the winter months but we also see it a lot during running season when someone missteps and rolls their ankle. Mechanical twisting of the lower leg and ankle can cause simple ankle sprains, which will heal on their own, or high ankle sprains, which can be more serious and require additional stabilization in a cast or boot. Other injuries such as ligament tears, tendon strain and cartilage injuries can all occur in an ankle sprain.
Treatment: Most ankle sprains will heal on their own. Resting a short period to allow the initial pain and swelling to subside is common and you may need a brace or boot initially. Chronic pain after an ankle sprain is a clue that there is something else going on. And that’s when it is important to see us right away. Additional imaging and exam might be needed to clarify the situation and physical therapy might come into play.
At Sideline Orthopedics, our #1 goal is to help our patients treat AND prevent injuries so they can continue doing what they love and living life to the fullest. We encourage people to request an appointment to get checked out for anything you may currently have, or want to prevent.
If you have any of these symptoms or other injury or pain areas, please schedule an appointment with us today!