Overview of Foot and Ankle Pain

Overview of Foot and Ankle Pain

Your feet and ankles team up to take on the very important responsibility of supporting your body. If your feet or ankles are hurt, then walking or standing can become challenging or impossible.

Your feet and ankles are complex parts of your body that are made of more than 100 ligaments, tendons and muscles, 33 joints and 26 bones. With so many intricate pieces, it’s important for you to take care of your feet and ankles because the rest of your body wouldn’t be upright without them.

You may need professional assistance from a health care professional, like a physical therapist, if you’re suffering from foot or ankle pain.  If ignored, some cases of foot and ankle pain can lead to more severe conditions or permanent disability.

Continue reading to learn more about foot and ankle pain, their symptoms, their causes and what you can do for treatment.

Symptoms of foot and ankle pain

Injuries and conditions can affect your entire foot or ankle or may affect specific parts. Because of the complexity of your feet and ankles, you can suffer from many conditions, so the symptoms vary widely.

Pain is not always the sign of an emergency. Minor pain may go away after a few days of rest, icing and pain medication. However, the pain may be the sign of a serious injury or condition. Please seek professional treatment if you have any of the following in your feet and ankles:

  • Severe or long-lasting pain
  • Pain that develops suddenly due to an impact or accident
  • Redness or swelling
  • Instability and weakness
  • Unable to support weight
  • Fever
  • Numbness or tingling

Some of these symptoms may develop slowly over time, but many of them develop quickly as a result of injury or trauma.

Causes of foot and ankle pain

As mentioned before, your feet and ankles are complex, so there are many causes of pain that you should be aware of. Some of the most common causes of foot and ankle pain include:

  • Sprains — If your ankle rolls or twists in an unnatural way, the ligaments can stretch or tear. This is known as a sprain.
  • Fractures — Traumatic injury may cause one of the many delicate bones in your feet and ankles to fracture. This is also caused by osteoporosis, which is a disease that makes your bones weak and more prone to fractures.
  • Nerve damage  Nerve pain can cause a stabbing and burning feeling in your ankles or feet that may be accompanied by numbness and weakness.
  • Arthritis — Arthritis wears down the cartilage and bones in your joints, including those in your ankles and feet.
  • Gout — This is a form of arthritis that is caused by the buildup of uric acid in your feet, which is caused by excessive consumption of foods high in purines. This includes alcoholic beverages, red meat and seafood.
  • Blood clots  A blood clot will cause pain and swelling and may display visible bruising on the surface of your skin.

Regardless of the cause of your foot or ankle pain, you should seek professional help if the symptoms become serious. In most cases, physical therapy can help reduce pain and restore the functionality of your feet and ankles.

Diagnosing foot and ankle pain

Before you can begin treatment with a physical therapist, you’ll need to identify the cause of your pain. Your physical therapist or primary physician may be able to diagnose the cause of your foot or ankle pain by examining the symptoms and asking you questions about events leading up to the pain. He or she may also review your age, sex and medical history to narrow down possible causes.

Some tests help health care professionals diagnose your pain too. These tests may include:

  • X-ray
  • MRI
  • Stress test

Treating foot and ankle pain

Treatments for foot and ankle pain will vary depending on the cause of your pain, your age, medical history and other personal factors. Many treatments include medication and physical therapy, but extreme cases may require surgery.

Physical therapy for the feet and ankles can help reduce pain and inflammation and restore strength and mobility. Many physical therapy treatments for foot and ankle pain include:

  • Stretching and exercising
  • Massage
  • Cold and hot therapy
  • Ultrasound
  • Controlled movements

In cases when you  require surgery, you should still find a physical therapist. Physical therapy can help you prepare for an upcoming surgery and recover more fully and quickly afterward.

Schedule an appointment for foot or ankle pain at Advent Physical Therapy

The team at Advent Physical Therapy has been treating conditions like foot and ankle pain for more than 20 years. If you are suffering from foot or ankle pain and would like help reducing your pain and regaining your ability to move, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our physical therapists.