At some point, everyone has had a minor toe, foot, or ankle injury that caused pain or swelling. Most of the time our body movements do not cause problems, but it’s not surprising that symptoms develop from everyday wear and tear, overuse or an injury. Toe, foot, or ankle injuries most commonly occur during sports or recreational activities, work-related tasks, projects around the house or systemic disease/ vascular insufficiency.
Certain athletes, such as dancers, gymnasts, soccer or basketball players, have an increased risk of toe, foot or ankle injuries due to the nature and demands of their sports. Older adults are at a higher risk for injuries and fractures because of decreased muscle mass and bone strength as they age.
The foot and ankle is one of the most complex joint in the body, with twenty-six bones, thirty-three joints and tons of muscles, ligaments and tendons. All of these structures work together to bear weight, allow movement and provide a stable base for use to stand and move.
Three bones make up the ankle joint:
The foot needs to be strong and stable to support us, yet flexible to allow complex movement such as walking, running, jumping and kicking.
The location and severity of ankle and foot pain can widely vary depending on the cause. Ankle and foot pain can be localized to a specific area of the ankle or foot or diffused throughout, and is often accompanied by physical restriction. Ankle and foot pain can be divided into three major categories:
A thorough physical examination will usually establish the diagnosis of foot and ankle pain. The underlying cause of ankle/foot pain will help direct treatment and plank of care. Most instances of ankle/foot pain can be successfully treated conservatively (physical therapy, chiropractic, massage, etc.) although some injuries may require surgical intervention.