Foot and Ankle Pain

Structure of our Foot and Ankle

Our foot is having 28 bones and more than 30 small joints and number of muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves. All these parts of feet work together to give strength, stability and flexibility and helps the foot and ankle to functions properly.

Foot and ankle pain is a frequent symptom but not always associated to arthritis always. Many of us have arch-shaped feet that spread body weight evenly over many bones and joints. If you possess low arches (pes planus), they will probably tend to be more flexible, but if you have higher arches (pes cavus) they will be less flexible. However, high & low arches are not a problem in all instances, but it can increase the chance of developing foot problems. You will many changes in your feet as you get older and as you suffer from arthritis.

Common Problems in Foot Ankles

Pain in your foot and ankles comes from your joints or the muscles around your joint. However, osteoarthritis isn’t very common in the ankle area, but can be the result of previous damages from injuries or inflammatory arthritis. So, let us see some of the common foot and ankle pains –

  • Valgus Heel – If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis then it is common for the heel to drift forward. It becomes troublesome if your arch flattens.
  • Plantar Fasciitis – It is a type of inflammation at the site, where fascia attach under your heel bone> it frequently affects people with inflammatory arthritis but it can also occur in people without arthritis.
  • Achilles Tendinitis – it is the inflammation in our Achilles tendon, which is common in people suffering from psoriatic arthritis or reactive arthritis. Even the symptom is common in people suffering from injuries due to exercises.
  • Arch Pain & Tiredness – Feet arches allows the weight to spread over bones and joints. The structure of feet changes when affected by arthritis making the pain area strain. In milder cases, it feels like tiredness or soreness in feet but it can become more painful if your muscles or tendons overwork.

Causes of Foot and Ankle Pain

Osteoarthritis

It can affect any joint in our body and as you grow older, you can link it to the changes in the shape of your feet. It commonly affects the big toes and makes it grow stiffer and it turns difficult to move. You may develop osteophytes or growth of new bone that gives rise to a bunion (lump) on the side of your big toe. Even Osteoarthritis is also common in the arch areas and in the ankles, especially when you suffer from previous injuries. Osteoarthritis in feet means you suffer from Osteoarthritis in other body parts such as hips and knees.

Inflammatory arthritis

This is of several types and can affect your feet and ankle in different ways –

  • Rheumatoid arthritis, which affects multiple joints
  • Reactive arthritis usually affects your ankle or the heel area
  • Psoriatic arthritis, leads to dactylitis
  • Gout the most common pain type in the big toe joint
  • Ankylosing spondylitis that mainly affects spine and then spreads to heel

Symptoms of Foot and Ankle Pain

  • Tenderness and pain in the joints
  • Non-flexibility in moving, walking or carrying weights
  • Stiffness in joints
  • Swelling in the joint
  • Difficulty in walking

Diagnosis of Foot and Ankle Pain

  • Looking into the entire medical history
  • Undergoing physical examinations
  • X-Rays
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI
  • CT Scans

Treatments

Foot ankles pain can be treated in a number of non-surgical ways. For the extreme cases there are surgical ways.

  • Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, are helpful in reducing the inflammation and pain.
  • Steroid medications injected to the joints as per prescription, but you need to make your feet rest for 48 hours to get the best result.
  • Use of pain relievers
  • Customized orthotic support or pads
  • Use of canes or bracing to support the joints and reduce pain during walking
  • Exercise or physical therapy
  • Use of customized shoes
  • Weight Reduce

Is Surgery an Option to Treat Foot and Ankle Pain?

You might require more than one kind of surgery to treat chronic foot and ankle pain. Your doctor can select the best surgery for you depending on the extent of your arthritis. In advanced cases, surgery is the only option to improve your movement and reduce pain.

Exercises

  • Stretch your Achilles keeping the palms flat on a wall, lean against and place one-foot forwards and one backward. Lean forward, leaving your heels on the floor. You are going to feel the pull in your tendon and calf. Repeat the same three times a day and 10 second on each repeat.
  • Stretch your big toe by placing a thick rubber band around the toe, pull the toes away from each other, and then bring closer. Repeat the exercise 10 times and hold each position for 5 seconds.
  • Pull your toes with the rubber bands around the toes of each foot, and then spread your toes
  • Pick up marbles with your toes

Foot Care Tips

  • Wear shoes shaped like your foot
  • Wear shoes that have support
  • Do not wear slip-on shoes
  • Get more rubber soles for better cushioning
  • Gain flexibility