Albury Osteopath Cameron Bayliss gives his overview of the common causes of foot and ankle pain that we see in the clinic.
A high portion of people have foot or ankle pain at some time or another particularly those who play a lot of sport or are generally active. Due to this the most common causes of foot and ankle pain are due to
- Awkward landings
- ‘Rolling ankle’ whether it be in sport or in the home
- Overuse or ‘incorrect loading’ – conditions such as tendinopathies and plantar fasciitis
- Improper footwear – Commonly high heeled shoes in particular can cause problems
- Pathological – Although very rare bone tumours can be found in the lower portion of your tibia and fibula
As you can see the foot and ankle is an incredibly complex structure with many bones, muscles and therefore nerves and blood supply.
- Plantar fasciitis – A condition we see weekly, characterised by pain in the arches of your foot, often debilitating pain for the first few steps out of bed or periods of inactivity. In the past this has been a difficult condition to treat, but our new shockwave machine has produced some amazing results for many people. Please contact us for more information and an appointment to get on top of this pain!
- Heel Fat pad – Often presents very similar to plantar fasciitis, pain after being immobile, pain underneath the heel and pain that improves with rest. This will feel like a bruise and make it very uncomfortable to walk.
- Ligaments – There are many ligaments that control and support your ankle joint, this enables lots of mobility for our bodies, however sometimes they allow too much movement and these ligaments tear or over stretch. The most common ligament injured is known as the ATFL (anterior tibiofibular ligament) which is damaged on a common inversion sprain. Other ligaments such as the deltoid ligament is one of the strongest ligaments in our body, often instead of tearing this ligament will physically pull off a small chunk of bone from its attachment sites, this can lead to pain, instability and a longer rehabilitation.
- Tendons – The achilles tendon is probably one of the most known tendons in the general public, connecting your calf muscles to your heel. This is commonly overused and aggravated as a result. Tendon issues are nagging and can be longstanding. Again, our shockwave machine has been a fantastic tool for management combined with steady and progressive exercises. There are other tendons in the foot and ankle commonly aggravated particularly through traumatic injuries, these include the peroneals and tibialis posterior.
- Stress Fractures – Often referred to as a hot spot. Stress fractures will require rest and gradual exercise increase to allow adequate healing. Depending on the location this may require immobilisation in the form of a moon boot. Should a stress fracture be left untreated this will turn into a full fracture. This will cause more pain, may require surgery, likely make you miss work and definitely sport. Stress fractures can occur in numerous bones throughout not only foot and ankle but throughout our body.
These are just a few common injuries we deal with but there are many structures throughout the foot and ankle that will cause pain. That’s why it’s important to book in with one of our osteopaths for our opinion, potential need for imaging and of course treatment and management.
Treatment and management
This will depend entirely on the injury that’s occurred. Commonly this will require a personalised strength and rehabilitation program, with stretching and of course the treatment we provide in the clinic. This can include but not limited to
- Shockwave therapy. As mentioned earlier this is fantastic for plantar fasciitis and tendon problems, we have a free phone consult with one of our osteopaths if you have any questions or wondering if the treatment is suitable for you!
- Soft Tissue massage
- Joint mobilisation
- Taping – We provide both rigid and kinesio taping for your sporting requirements
- Exercise Prescription – we will work with you on your personal goals whether it be sport work or general life to give you the best chance to be as strong as you were – if not stronger! Then before your injury.
- Dry needling