There is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness. – Mother Teresa

Foot & Ankle Injuries

Ankle pain refers to any type of pain or discomfort in your ankles. This pain could be caused by an injury, like a sprain, or by a medical condition, such as arthritis. Lateral foot pain happens on the outer edges of your feet. It can make standing, walking, or running painful.

Possible Causes: 

Foot and ankle pain can be caused by a variety of conditions or injuries: 

  • Arthritis: The swelling and tenderness of joints with symptoms like pain and stiffness, which could worsen with age. 
  • Fractures: Broken bones.
  • Sprains: A stretching or tearing of ligaments - the tissue that connects two bones together in the joints. 
  • Plantar Fasciitis: The inflammation of the band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot and connects heel bone to toes.
  • Achilles Rupture: The rupture in the tendon that connects the muscles in the back of the calf to the heel bone. It affects the back of the lower leg.
  • Tendonitis: The inflammation of the tendon that attaches muscle to bone and causes pain and tenderness outside a joint.
  • Bunions: The bony bump on the joint at the base of the big toe, pushing against the next toe and forcing the joint of the big toe to become bigger and protrudes out.
  • Hammertoes: The foot deformities that form as a result of an imbalance in the muscles, tendons or ligaments that hold the toe straight. 

Risk Factors: 

Some risk factors are related to gender, age and heredity, and therefore not preventable, however those that are lifestyle-related are preventable.

Athletes and sports persons are at a higher risk of injury, especially if they attempt strenuous athletic activities without prior conditioning or warming-up like ankle and calf stretching and strengthening exercises.
Patients suffering from arthritis or diabetes. Diabetes causes musculoskeletal changes that lead to joint pain and stiffness, swelling, carpal tunnel syndrome, and severely affected feet. Arthritis causes pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints of the heel bone, the inner mid-foot bone, and the outer mid-foot bone and the joint of the big toe and foot bone.
People who are prone to accidents or injuries due to their work, using faulty footwear can increase risk for developing ankle sprains and strains. Occupations or sports involving repetitive actions may cause foot and ankle pain, such as basketball. 
Congenital deformities like clubfoot where the tendons of the foot are shortened and the bones unusually shaped, causing inward and downward pointing of the foot and metatarsus adductus where a baby’s forefoot and toes are inward pointing making it difficult to straighten the toes.  Some studies indicate that the risk of developing ankle sprains and strains is slightly higher for overweight males than for overweight females.

Signs & Symptoms: 

Symptoms of foot and ankle problems could include pain, difficulty with standing or walking, deformity, swelling, bruising, a popping or snapping sound, and redness.

Diagnosis: 

Diagnosis of the underlying cause of your foot or ankle pain will be based on your description of the symptoms. The orthopaedic specialist at Medcare will note the kind of discomfort, where it is troubling you, and what factors trigger it. Imaging tests such as x-rays, MRI or CT scan may also be recommended by the orthopaedic doctor.

Treatment Options: 

Consult an orthopaedic doctor at Medcare to draw up a treatment plan for your specific condition. 

Initially, the doctor may recommend medications like ibuprofen, to reduce pain and inflammation, along with the application of icepack to reduce the swelling. For minor issues wearing compression bandages to immobilize your ankle or foot is recommended.

If it’s a fracture then braces, boots, orthotic supports or casts are advised followed by physical therapy once the bone is healed. 

After a thorough assessment of your condition the orthopaedic doctor may recommend:

  • Shock wave and ultrasound therapy.
  • Reconstruction to rebuild bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments.
  • Removal of damaged tissue.
  • Arthrodesis that is fusion surgery of the bones to make your foot or ankle more stable.
  • Arthroplasty that is joint replacement
Q: What is fusion surgery?

A: Fusion surgery is also called arthrodesis and is used to treat ankle arthritis. Metal screws and plates are used to fuse the shin and ankle bones so that they heal and become one bone. This eliminates the painful motion and restores the function of the ankle. The patient gets relief from pain, and has a stable joint that can bear weight and conduct normal activities.

Q: Does an ankle sprain require consultation of an orthopaedic specialist? Or will it just heal on its own?

A: It is best to consult an orthopaedic doctor if you have pain in the ankle. The doctor can confirm that it’s a sprain and nothing worse. Also, the orthopaedic specialist will tell you how to take care of the sprain so that there is no lasting damage to the cartilage or tendon.

Q: Can you reverse a hammer toe ?

A: A hammertoe can be reversed with some simple treatments that include splinting the toe to keep it straight and to stretch the tendons of the foot.

Q: How do you get rid of bunions without surgery?

A: You can use shoe inserts to help position the foot correctly, protect the bunion with a gel-filled pad that you can buy from the pharmacy, and ask the doctor if you could wear a splint at night to hold the toe straight and ease the discomfort. 

Q: What happens if you don’t treat tendonitis?

A: If left untreated, tendonitis may become chronic and can also lead to weakening and rupture of the tendon, and possibly permanent damage to the affected tissues.

Q: How do you rupture your Achilles?

A: You may suddenly have tripped or stumbled, and your foot was pushed in front to break a fall, forcefully overstretching your tendon.

Q: Can Plantar fasciitis go away on its own?

A: Simple home treatments can often resolve plantar fasciitis, especially if you catch it early – like stretching your foot out and walk around for a while. But it may take longer to heal if it has worsened over time. 

Q: Do sprains bruise?

A: With most sprains, you feel pain right away at the site of the tear. Often the ankle starts to swell immediately and may bruise. The ankle area is usually tender to touch, and it hurts to move it. In more severe sprains, you may hear and/or feel something tear, along with a pop or snap. You will need to consult your orthopaedic doctor immediately.

Q: What is the first aid for fracture?

A: Apply pressure to the wound with a sterile bandage, a clean cloth or a clean piece of clothing. Immobilize the injured area and don’t try to realign the bone or push a bone that's sticking out back in. You will need to consult your orthopaedic doctor immediately.

Q: What are the early signs of arthritis, and what areas of the body are affected?

A: You would feel fatigued, have joint pain, tenderness, swelling, redness, warmth, stiffness and loss of joint range of motion.