Foot and ankle pain often go hand in hand. Because they both carry the same amount of stress and body weight, and there are many connecting tendons and ligaments between them, when something is wrong with one, it typically affects the other.
For patients experiencing foot and ankle pain, the results of the ongoing symptoms can slow down your daily activity level and, in some cases, your overall quality of life. Chronic pain in the foot or ankle can prevent you from walking or standing for any length of time, it can keep you from your favorite hobbies and activities, and it can be a constant pain that affects your overall mood and consequently your mental health.
Fortunately, foot and ankle pain can often be treated with physical therapy. During your initial appointment, your physical therapist will ask about your symptoms and talk through some possible causes of your pain. Then, you’ll work together to create a personalized treatment plan to help you get back on your feet.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes and symptoms of foot and ankle pain.
Causes of foot and ankle pain
While some causes of foot and ankle pain may be attributed to an underlying condition or injury, sometimes the cartilage in the ankle joint simply wears out, weakens and becomes inflamed. This can be due to repetitive movements, weight gain and improper foot support. In fact, arthritis in the ankle (the wearing down of the cartilage that protects the ankle joint) is one of the most common causes of ankle pain.
Second on that list is plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a long ligament that stretches from your heel to your toes. Without proper support, this ligament can become overstretched and cause significant pain when walking or running. In some cases, this pain continues even when sitting and resting. People who are overweight and people who run long distances are the most susceptible to a plantar fasciitis injury.
Other causes of foot and ankle pain include:
- Achilles tendon rupture.
- Bone spurs.
- Flat feet.
- Achilles tendinitis.
- Avulsion fracture.
Symptoms of chronic foot and ankle pain
The most common symptoms of foot and ankle pain include:
- Tenderness at the joint.
- Pain during movement.
- Difficulty walking.
- Tenderness or pain when putting weight on the foot and ankle.
- Joint stiffness or swelling.
- Pain in the arch of your foot.
In some cases, foot and ankle pain come on suddenly from a “tweak” or mild injury. In these cases, R.I.C.E. treatment (rest, ice, compression, elevation) often relieves the symptoms in a few days or a couple of weeks. If the symptoms continue beyond a few weeks and/or do not respond to at-home treatments, you should consider seeking physical therapy to help relieve your pain.
Treatments for foot and ankle pain
Foot and ankle pain can often be treated by a physical therapist. During your first appointment, the physical therapist may have you perform a gait analysis to help determine the cause of your pain. Once the cause is determined, you will work with your physical therapist to create a personalized treatment plan to help you get back on your feet.
Find a location near you today to schedule an appointment or an initial free screening.