Foot and Ankle

Foot and ankle pain is often caused by improper foot function. The issue might be as simple as poorly fitting shoes causing foot and ankle problems. However, there are many types of foot problems that affect the heels, toes, ankles and joints of the foot.

What is an ankle sprain?

An ankle sprain is an injury to the foot's ligaments in the ankle. Ligaments are tough bands of elastic tissue that connect bones to each other. Ankle sprains may occur if the ankle rolls, turns, or twists beyond its normal range of motion. Ankle sprains may be caused by awkward foot placement, irregular surfaces, weak muscles, loose ligaments, or wearing shoes with spiked heels. The symptoms of a sprain will depend on how severely the ligaments are stretched or torn, but usually include swelling, pain, or bruising. Treatment will depend on the severity of the sprain, but may include:

  • Resting the ankle
  • Wrapping the ankle with elastic bandage or tape
  • Ice pack application (to reduce inflammation)
  • Elevating the ankle 
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen to help reduce the pain and inflammation
  • Gradual return to walking and exercise 
  • A walking cast (for moderate sprains)
  • Surgery (for severe sprains)
  • Physical therapy

Foot Fractures

With 26 bones in a single foot, almost any of them can be broken. Many fractures do not require a cast or surgery.  These bone often will heal on their own. When a foot is fractured, the site of the fracture usually is painful and swollen, and Sierra Vista can help you determine the course of treatment, if needed, including:

  • Ankle joint fractures. These fractures may be serious and require immediate medical attention. Ankle fractures usually require a cast, and some may require surgery if the bones are too separated or misaligned.
  • Metatarsal bone fractures. Located in the middle of the foot, metatarsal bones fractures often do not require a cast. A stiff-soled shoe provided by your doctor may be all that is needed for support as you heal. Sometimes, surgery is needed to correct misaligned bones or fractured segments.
  • Sesamoid bone fractures. The sesamoid bones are 2 small, round bones at the end of the metatarsal bone of the big toe. Usually, padded soles can help relieve pain. However, sometimes, the sesamoid bone may have to be surgically removed.
  • Toe fractures. Fractures of the toes normally can heal and usually do not need a cast. 

Dealing with Foot and Ankle Pain

Foot and ankle pain can be inhibiting to an active lifestyle. Foot pain can have many sources including sprains, fractures and even nerve damage. Listed below are 3 common areas of pain in the foot and their causes:

Pain in the ball of the foot. Pain in the ball of the foot is often caused by nerve or joint damage in that region of the foot. In addition, a benign (noncancerous) growth, such as Morton's neuroma, sould be the source of the pain.

Plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is characterized by severe pain in the heel of the foot, especially when standing up after resting. The condition is due to an overuse injury of the sole surface (plantar) of the foot and results in inflammation of the fascia, a tough, fibrous band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the base of the toes.

More common in women, Plantar fasciitis is often found in people who are overweight or with jobs that require a lot of walking or standing on hard surfaces. In addition, it can be found in people with high arches or flat feet. Running or Walking, especially with tight calf muscles, may also be a cause of the condition. 

Treatment may include:

  • Rest
  • Ice pack applications
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Stretching exercises of the Achilles tendons and plantar fascia 

Achilles tendon injury. The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. However, this tendon is also the most common site of tendonitis or rupture. Achilles tendonitis is often caused by overuse of the tendon and calf muscles. Symptoms may include stiffness that disappears after the tendon warms up, swelling and mild pain after exercise that worsens gradually. Treatments may include:

  • Rest
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine
  • Supportive devices and/or bandages for the muscle and tendon
  • Stretching
  • Massage
  • Ultrasound
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Surgery

The symptoms of foot and ankle problems may look like other medical conditions, so contact the Orthopedic Team at Sierra Vista for a diagnosis