Foot & Ankle Month

Foot or Ankle Pain?

Sprained or Strained? What To Do? When?

Foot, Heel & Ankle Injuries

Foot or ankle injuries can affect your life in so many different ways. Sore feet can be very frustrating. Whether it be a sharp pain, weight-bearing pain, an unstable ankle, arch or heel pain, it can all affect how you walk, stand or run and play sport.

There are numerous causes of foot pain, heel pain or ankle injuries. Luckily, most lower pain and discomfort are only mild, and it’s more about improving how you weight-bear through the region. It’s usually a simple problem and quick solution in most cases.

When Should You Worry About Foot Or Ankle Pain?

Some cases of foot and ankle pain require urgent attention.

Sudden Onset Foot Or Ankle Pain

Traumatic injuries that occur at speed or involve a multi-direction component such as twisting may result in foot or ankle fractures or significant soft tissue injures eg syndesmosis or high ankle sprains.

The Ottawa Ankle Rules are used to determine the need for X-rays in acute ankle or foot injuries.

Ankle X-ray is only required if:

  • There is any pain in the malleolar zone; and,
  • Any one of the following:
    • Bone tenderness along the distal 6 cm of the posterior edge of the tibia or tip of the medial malleolus, or
    • Bone tenderness along the distal 6 cm of the posterior edge of the fibula or tip of the lateral malleolus, or
    • An inability to bear weight both immediately and in the emergency department for four steps.

Foot X-ray series is indicated if:

  • There is any pain in the midfoot zone; and,
  • Any one of the following:
    • Bone tenderness at the base of the fifth metatarsal (for foot injuries), or
    • Bone tenderness at the navicular bone (for foot injuries), or
    • An inability to bear weight both immediately and in the emergency department for four steps.

Chronic Ligament Instability

Chronic ligament instability that is inadequately supported by your foot and ankle muscles can cause premature osteoarthritis and joint deformity. Some conditions can be safely rehabilitated without the need for surgery, whereas other conditions such as a Lisfacnc injury may require surgical repair.

For specific advice regarding your foot or ankle injury, please consult your doctor or physiotherapist.

Gradual Onset Pain That Fails to Improve

Stress Fractures

While you may not have had a sudden traumatic injury, the ankle and foot are highly susceptible to stress fractures. Stress fractures can be very serious. There are several bones in your foot that can have their blood supply compromised by a stress fracture. This may lead to bone necrosis (death). These potentially life-changing conditions should seek an early assessment from your doctor or physiotherapist.

The good news is that most ankle and foot pain is not sinister and can be very successfully treated with physiotherapy and other non-surgical options.

Please ask your physiotherapist or doctor for advice.

What Are 7 Common Foot, Ankle & Heel Injuries?

Would you please discuss your shoulder condition with a trusted shoulder physiotherapist?

What To Do?

Some sources of foot and ankle pain can be serious. It is crucial to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your pain so that your physiotherapist or doctor can direct appropriate treatment to the reason.

Fortunately, most foot and ankle pain is not severe. Once we exclude nasties, you can quickly relieve your pain and return to a comfortable and fun life!

Would you please consult your physiotherapist or doctor for the most accurate diagnosis and best treatment for your foot or ankle pain?

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