What is Ankle Pain?
Both the foot and the ankle are complex mechanical structures. According to the Arthritis Foundation, the ankle joint consists of three bones, all of which must all interact correctly together and with the various connective tissues that hold the assembly together. As for the foot, it contains more than two dozen bones, 30 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It’s no surprise, then, that foot and ankle pain are such common afflictions. A serious injury may cause pain so severe that you don’t dare put any weight on the affected foot or ankle. Even less debilitating pain can still make everyday tasks a burden.
Dr. Ried explaining Ankle Pain
How Physical Therapy Can Help Ankle Pain
Whether you sprained your ankle in a sports mishap or you’re struggling with a chronic pain condition in a foot or ankle, physical therapy can put you on the road to relief. Our Fort Worth physical therapists will examine your foot and ankle carefully to confirm the exact cause of your pain. If you’ve sustained an acute injury, we will probably prescribe the R.I.C.E. treatment protocol (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) for the first few days so that the worst of the swelling can go down.
Once you’re past the initial stage of your injury (or if you’re suffering from a chronic pain issue instead of an acute injury,) we can move on to several other physical therapy measures. You may receive several physical therapy techniques as part of a holistic healing or pain management program. Exercises usually play a key role in such a program. We may prescribe a variety of stretching exercises to restore joint mobility, or strengthening exercises to rebuild ankle and foot muscles, including the small muscles that help control your balance (exercises on a balance board can be very helpful in such cases.) Other popular therapeutic techniques include ultrasound, heat, and cold laser therapy to ease pain and boost circulation. We may even recommend orthotic footwear and changes in your lifestyle to help you keep foot and ankle pain away.
Causes of Ankle Pain
Foot and ankle pain can occur all at once due to acute damage or over time in relation to some chronic condition. The Mayo Clinic lists a number of common causes of ankle and foot pain, including:
- Sprains and strains — A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament; a strain is a stretched/torn muscle or tendon.
- Tendinitis — Constant overuse of the tendons in the ankle or foot can cause them to become chronically inflamed.
- Bursitis — Tendons that rub against anti-friction sacs known as bursae can cause the bursae to become irritated and painful.
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome — Inflammation of the tarsal tunnel can pinch the nerve that runs from the ankle to the foot.
- Plantar fasciitis — This inflammation of the arch’s connective tissue is aggravated by constant standing, postural problems, and/or footwear that lacks arch support.
- Arthritis — Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can afflict the foot and ankle joints.
- Fractures — Fractures to the foot or ankle can force weeks of downtime to permit healing.