Foot and ankle pain can be caused by a host of different issues. From injury to muscle fatigue to “wear and tear”, this type of pain has been experienced by most people at some point in their lives. In this post, the most common causes of foot and ankle pain will be discussed.
A swollen or injured plantar fascia (the muscle that runs along the bottom of the foot) is the major cause of plantar fasciitis. The major symptom is sharp heel pain, usually made worse by exercise (like running) or long periods of inactivity (like a night’s sleep). Other symptoms include heel sensitivity and temporary improvement in pain after short spouts of movement. You are at more of a risk of developing plantar fasciitis if you run regularly, are standing and walking for prolonged amounts of time, have high arches, have weak plantar flexor muscles, are obese or are inactive or overly active. It is possible to treat mild forms at home by resting, icing, massaging and stretching the muscle. However, if it does not get better or is an extreme case, contact your doctor.
Achilles Tendonitis and/or Heel Bursitis
Inflammation to the Achilles tendon or bursa sac (which sits between the Achilles tendon and heel bone) can also cause you to have foot and ankle pain. These two separate problems are often mistaken for each other, and can also happen simultaneously. However, either of these problems can be treated in a similar fashion. Follow the age-old trick, R.I.C.E. Rest, ice, compression and elevation can work wonders for your foot and ankle pain if what you’re experiencing is one of these problems. Massage is also a good at-home remedy.
Overuse is never a good thing to deal with, especially if it leads to stress fractures. They are small, hairline fractures caused by recurring stress. Running and other high-impact exercises are major culprits for this problem. They can cause no pain or dull, aching pain, usually made better with rest and worse with continued activity. They are very common in the metatarsal muscles, which span from each toe up the top of the foot, which can cause foot pain. The best way to treat this type of injury is to stay off your feet as much as possible, which can completely heal stress fractures in some cases. However, braces, physical therapy and (in extreme cases) surgery may also be implemented.
Metatarsalgia or Morton’s Neuroma
Metatarsal inflammation and irritation can also cause pain in the ball of the foot. Metatarsalgia, which can be caused by this, has been described as the feeling of “a pebble in your shoe.” Morton’s Neuroma is similar to this, but it is also accompanied with tingling and shooting pain. Rest and switching to more supportive shoes can usually help, but if symptoms persist, a trip to the doctor may be needed.
Although overuse seems to be the major trend for foot and ankle pain causes, acute injuries and trauma are likely culprits, as well. Falling or the rolling of the ankle, in particular, causes ankle sprains. The main symptoms include ankle pain and weakness, with swelling shortly following. This almost always follows some sort of trauma, so if you’re experiencing these symptoms without experiencing trauma, it might be something else. R.I.C.E. and ankle braces can usually heal minor ankle sprains, but if your sprain is severe or doesn’t improve, you made need to get an X-ray and seek professional medical advice from your doctor.