Whether you’re an athlete or if you walk a lot, it’s likely that you’ve experienced some discomfort in your heel, soles or ankles. The good thing is, you can recover from these injuries with some extra care.
Common foot and ankle injuries include:
- Ankle Sprains
- Heel Pain
- Heel Spurs
- Morton’s Neuroma
- Arch Pain
Ankle sprains are caused when the ligaments in your ankle are torn either partially or fully usually do to a twisting or rolling action. This often causes pain where the ligament has been torn and from the pressure caused by swelling. This may make it difficult to walk. Ankle sprains can cause long-term problems—chronic ankle pain, inability to say in a position for long periods of time, balancing problems—if not treated.
Ankle sprains are typically characterized as Grade I, Grade II or Grade III depending on the number of ligaments torn and the degree of tear (partial or complete).
Grade I Ankle Sprain
Grade I ankle sprains are the most common and the least severe of all the other types. It involves only one ligament and the tear is less then approximately 25% of the thickness of the ligament. These do not really require medical attention and will heal at home if the Pr.I.C.E protocol is followed. The Pr.I.C.E protocol specifies how to treat an ankle sprain:
- Protective movement – use the ankle within minimally painful ranges. This may require that use of crutches or a brace but continue to use the ankle.
- Ice the ankle to reduce swelling. . This takes the pressure off the ligament. Do not ice for more than 20 minutes and preferably wrap ice in cloth to avoid frostbite.
- Compress the injury to keep the swelling down and provide good tissue approximation of the torn ligaments.
- Elevate your foot at an incline to allow the swelling to drain and not pool in the foot.
Grade II Ankle Sprain
A grade II ankle sprain involved two of the main ankle ligaments and or contains a tear approximately >25% of the width of the ligament. The treatment for Grade II Ankle Sprains includes following the Pr.I.C.E protocol and longer protected movements period may be needed.. Your doctor may suggest a brace to stabilize the ankle and prevent further injury while the healing process is occurring. Grade III Ankle Sprain
Grade III ankle sprains are the most severe type of ankle sprain. They either consists of all three or the main ligaments and or contain a full thickness ligament tear. They may cause chronic problems with balance and walking if not given immediate medical attention. Sometimes surgery is suggested and doctors immobilize patients with a cast for up to two to three weeks.
In certain cases, people experience inflammation and pain in their heel. There are many causes for heel pain but more often than not, it is because of overuse or excessive strain on the heel from wearing badly fitting shoes training errors and muscle imbalances pulling at attachments in the heel
To treat the condition:
- See a rehabilitation specialist to determine the cause of the heel pain
- Wear proper fitting shoes
- Elevate feet at the end of the day to decrease swelling
- Use orthotics to relieve stress and pressure on the heel.
- address muscular imbalances and training errors.
Over exertion of the foot may cause calcium deposits to develop in the heel. These create a spur in the heel that may cause patients to experience pain and discomfort. The treatment of the condition is conducted over a long period of time and do not necessarily require surgery or other complicated treatment methods. To recover from heel spurs, your must:
- See a rehabilitation specialist to determine cause.
- Address any muscular imbalances
- wear proper fitting shoes orstretch the calf and soles of your feet for 20 minutes.
- Wear supportive shoes and orthotics
- use a gait aid if needed to continue to walk without limping as liming will cause issues elsewhere in the movement chain.
Morton’s Neuroma is a painful, numb or tingling sensation between the second, third or fourth toe. This condition is caused excessive stress or pressure on the foot while wearing shoes with narrow toes, such as heels.
If footwear is the cause, symptoms will subside if you wear properly fitting shoes and massage your feet for a few minutes. In some cases Morton’s neuroma can be related to the congenital shape of the bones in your feet. This can still be treated but will require more work and effort then simply resting your feet. See a podiatrist to determine if orthotics can help you. Morton’s neuroma can also be caused by a loss of the transverse arch in your foot.
The treatment for Morton’s Neuroma involves simple lifestyle changes. Neuroma’s are slow to resolve and can takes months to be asymptomatic. Helpful changes include…
- Switching to low heeled shoes or supportive flats
- Using padding in your shoes to ease the pressure on your toes
- taping to promote a better arch across your foot
- Using orthotics
- strengthening the small muscles of your foot
- Your doctor may administer local anaesthesia, if absolutely necessary
Arch pain is caused by the inflammation of the tendons or fascia connecting the heel to the balls of the feet. Overuse, training errors, tight muscles cause inflammation of the flexor and abductor tendons and plantar fascia. The inflammation causes the pain felt along the arch. Treatment includes:
- Rest the painful foot
- rolling out the plantar fascia and flexor tendons under the foot
- taping to support the arch
- stretching the calf and foot
- strengthening from the hip down
- Use orthotics and shoes with good arch support
Sports & Exercise Medicine Institute clinics are greater Toronto area based sports medicine, physiotherapy and massage therapy clinics that offer a wide range of services such as sports medicine physicians, massage therapists and active release techniques, among others.