Foot and Ankle Pain Causes and Treatment
Foot and Ankle Pain
Foot and ankle pain are very common problems and can impact on a person’s day to day life. Overuse of the foot and ankle and/or injuries are the main causes of pain. Most ankle pain is not serious and does not require a scan or x-ray to diagnose the problem. Most cases of ankle pain will be short-term and not severe; however, some ankle pain can be more serious and long-lasting, at which point you should see a healthcare professional. Most ankle pain should begin to get better in 2 weeks and fully resolve by 6 weeks.
You should seek medical attention if:
- there has been significant trauma, for example a fall from height or direct blow to the foot/ankle
- your ankle/foot is misshapen
- your calf is hot, swollen and tender
- you have difficulty putting weight on your leg
- you have pain which is worsening
- Your pain is not resolving
You should always have your ankle pain assessed by a medical professional if any of the above apply, to ensure that you are provided with the correct medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment for your pain. Nathan Briganti of Briganti Physiotherapy, a musculoskeletal specialist physiotherapist, working within NHS, Private Practice and Professional sport has provided some useful information on foot and ankle pain causes and treatment methods which could be used to help ease the pain.
Ankle Pain Causes and Treatment: Common Causes
Foot and ankle pain is not always age related and can happen to anyone at any time. The most common causes of ankle pain are usually due to soft tissue injuries; however some ankle pain can have no obvious cause. The most common causes of ankle pain include:
- Accidents/Injuries- Rolling over on your ankle (sprain) and breaking or fracturing bones due to trauma are the most common causes of foot and ankle pain. These are mainly due to accidents when playing sports, training, slips/falls or trips or workplace or road traffic accidents.
- Underlying Medical Conditions- Many types of arthritis and medical conditions can cause problems to the feet and ankles and symptoms including pain and swelling. Some examples of these conditions include osteoarthritis, inflammatory arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, reactive arthritis, septic arthritis, Gout, and Diabetes. Some heart conditions can also cause Foot swelling and pain such as peripheral vascular diseases. Stroke can also cause foot pain. Pain in the foot can be referred from elsewhere and most nerve pain in leg comes from the lower back.
- Overuse Injuries (doing too much too quickly)- This can occur when people start to train for the first time in awhile or start new activities that there body is not used to such as training for a marathon. It can lead to common issues such as shin splints, Achilles tendinopathy, Peroneal tendinopathy, metatarsalgia and Morton’s neuroma.
- Foot Posture– Everyone’s feet are different, some people have high arches, some have flat feet and others have a neutral foot posture. This can change due to a variety of injuries or accidents. Wearing inappropriate or badly fitted shoes that lack the appropriate support for whatever task you are doing may cause strain on your feet and ankles. A common injury seen in clinic is someone going on holidays and walking for hours in flip flops then developing plantar fasciitis due to having no support, or a new runner going to a running shoe shop and getting a specialised shoe for their running that may in turn actually restrict or cause them and injury by changing their normal foot posture.
- Injuries elsewhere- Uneven weight on one side of your body due to a injury somewhere else will cause you to put more strain on your ankles on the opposite side as more pressure will be on one ankle than the other. This may lead to your ankles aching and cramping.
- Excess Weight- Gaining weight can cause your ankles to be under more pressure which may lead to pain and strain. This is a common cause of ankle pain, especially when trying to lose weight as the increased weight causes increased load in the foot and ankle and if the body is not used to this, it can cause an overuse injury as discussed above.
Ankle Pain Causes and Treatment: How To Alleviate Ankle Pain
- Adequate Rest- Take a break from doing aggravating activities that involve a lot of weight and pressure on your ankles, such as running or basketball. Also, try to ensure that you take regular breaks at work, especially jobs that involve a lot of moving about and manual work. Ensure adequate rest between exercise when training to allow your body to adapt.
- Low-impact exercises- Increase the amount of low-impact exercises, such as swimming, so you are placing less pressure on your ankles.
- Pay attention to your posture
- Eat healthily and exercise regularly to avoid becoming overweight and placing too much pressure on your ankles due to excess body weight.
How To Relieve Ankle Pain
- RICE Therapy:
-Rest- Don’t exercise, and try to avoid putting weight on the injured ankle, instead only gently move it around from time to time to stop your ankles stiffening.
-Ice- Put any covered frozen product (such as an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas) on to the painful area of your ankle, for 5-10 minutes every 2-3 hours . (AVOID ICE BURNS)
– Compression- Wrap a bandage or Brace around your ankle, making sure it supports the area that hurts, but not too tight as it will prevent blood flow. Only use when doing weight bearing activities. If resting at home have it off
– Elevate- Raise your ankle up above your heart level, to maintain blood flow to your ankle, which will reduce recovery time.
- Stretching- This will help loosen and condition your joints in your ankle, and will help with the recovery process as the joints will be less stiff to relieve pain. Only start stretching after your pain has subsided and you are able to walk normally.
- Medication- Using over-the-counter pain relief, such as ibuprofen or topical pain relievers will reduce pain, swelling and inflammation.
- G.P.- If you have tried these home remedies and your ankle pain is still there, after a couple of days, visit your G.P. or Physiotherapist. Your healthcare Professional may suggest an ankle support, steroid injections or rehab.
Physiotherapy for Ankle Pain
One of the most common treatment options for ankle pain is physiotherapy. Physiotherapy can be used for most types of pain, including pain in the ankles. They can provide lots of advice on ankle pains causes and relief methods.
Briganti Physiotherapy offers a range of treatments and modalities to manage, reduce and eliminate foot and ankle pain. Briganti Physiotherapy uses a range of evidence based treatments and modalities to aid in your recovery. While we utilise manual therapy and injection therapy to help treat patients, the underpinning of our treatment is based on education and the use exercise and strengthening.
How Can Beacon Law Help You?
If you believe you developed ankle pains due to an accident, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. Beacon Law provides an experienced team of solicitors and legal professionals. We provide a high level of service to all our clients and work to ensure you receive the highest level of accident work compensation for your injuries.