fOOT AND anKLE pAIN
One-hundred muscles. Tendons. Ligaments.
You could say the human foot is a pretty complex part of our bodies.
It has to be.
It’s what bears the most weight in every activity of life.
When there is pain in the foot – from bunions, pronation, fallen arches, an acute injury, plantar fasciitis or cramping muscles – it can impact the rest of the body. In fact, a number of hip, knee and even low back problems can be linked to foot and ankle dysfunction.
A custom physical therapy treatment plan may include the following goals:
• eliminate stress and strain to reduce the inflammation of the tissue
• reduce pain via modalities such as ultrasound and electronic stimulation
• restore normal foot and ankle biomechanics
• return maximum muscle strength
• correct improper gait
• patient education for future self management techniques
Treatment will Include:
• hands-on manual therapy treatments to help regain full strength and range of motion
• balance building activities
• properly prescribed orthotics (custom orthotics and semi-custom shoe inserts)
Our PT’s utilize their special training to evaluate each patient and design a treatment program that addresses your needs. It is the goal of the therapist to empower the patient and make them a partner in their care.
We Treat the Following Conditions
- Shin splints
- Stress fracture
- Peroneal tendinitis
- Tibialis posterior tendonitis
- Nerve entrapment
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome
- Post-surgical (i.e. bunionectomy, lis franc repair, ORIF)
- Muscle strain/tear
Problems with Orthotics
Orthotics are specialty inserts for your shoes. They can be store bought or custom made by an orthotist (someone who specializes in making orthotics and braces). Orthotics can help with simple issues like falling arches or needing a little extra cushion when you are walking around. Many people need orthotics but don’t realize it or they have them and don’t realize that they need new or updated orthotics until they start having pain issues.
Orthotics are helpful until they aren’t. Orthotics can wear out just like shoes, and clothes. Many don’t realize that they need orthotics or that the orthotics they currently have are not what their body needs any longer. If you have older shoes you can tell when they are starting to wear out, but an orthotic, especially a custom set, don’t show the wear and tear that shoes show. Our bodies change and so do our feet over time, for example from before, to during, to after pregnancy, weight loss or gain, and surgery. A professional is needed to look at your feet to tell you if your foot has changed, your shoe isn’t giving you enough support or if your orthotics aren’t doing their job any longer. That’s where physical therapy can help.
Physical therapists are trained to look at your feet, look at how you walk, and stand, as well as the wear pattern of your shoes. They can watch you walk and see if your foot turns inward, or outward, if you walk more toward the front or back of your foot, and if you arches are lower than what would be considered normal. They can make suggestions for better shoes, different inserts that are bought at stores or put you in touch with a group that make custom orthotics. Therapists can also help you address if you have weakness in your legs/hips that is contributing to your foot mechanics or that is caused by your foot changes.
Heel spurs are a piece of bone that grows off of one of the bones in your foot. Typically it is a bone called the calcaneus but not 100% of the time. Most heel spurs are painful and cause significantly increased pain when you walk. Heel spurs are typically on the underside of your foot and press against the layers of tissue that make up the bottom of our feet and arches. Diagnosing a heel spur typically requires and x-ray but many physicians have seen enough cases that they can feel confident in making that call without the extra cost. Many times doctors give medications and will tell patients to stretch and even refer for physical therapy. Physical therapy can be a great help to people with heel spurs so don’t hesitate to request a referral for therapy if you are diagnosed with a heel spur.
Physical therapy can use manual treatments like massage and manual stretching as well as teaching your exercises and self stretches that you can do at home to help with heel spurs. Therapists should also look at the mechanics of your foot and your shoes. Checking if you stand on the inside or outside of your foot can give your therapist a better idea if you need orthotics or possibly just different shoes than you typically wear.
If you require surgery to remove the bone spur therapy can be a great option to address pain and ensure that you are able to return to your previous level of ability with less chance of problems that can arise if you start walking differently. After surgery, therapy can address your scar, ensure the motion of your ankle returns as well as the strength overall. Having weakness in your foot/ankle can decrease your overall balance and increase your fall risk. Therapy can address this while helping you recover from surgery and rebuilding your strength overall in your foot/ankle.
Heel spurs can be very painful and if not addressed can lead to other issues like knee, hip and back pain. Talk to your physician about the pain in your foot/feet and if they feel you have a heel spur ask for physical therapy. Don’t let pain in your feet slow your life down, seek help and get back to your life and your world.
Ankle pain is common but it can be treated. Knowing why your ankle hurts is half the battle, fixing it or preventing it from happening again is the other half. Ankle pain can be caused by many things for example arthritis, tightness in the joints that make up the ankle, foot and lower leg, as well as muscles that are too tight or too weak. Whatever is causing the pain should be addressed, whether by your primary physician or an orthopaedic physician. Then depending on what they find starting therapy is always a good idea.
There are nine bones that make up what most consider the ankle then you can add in the long bones that extend out to meet your toes as well. That’s a lot of bones crammed into a very small space and expected to take the brunt of our walking, standing, and all weight bearing. If just one bone is “stuck” or not moving correctly then it throws a wrench into the entire set up of your foot/ankle. Physical therapists are skilled and trained to assess this and can help get things moving and prevent further injuries from occurring by addressing the areas around the bone as well as your mechanics and help you make sure you can get back to your pain free life.
Physical therapy can address if you have weak muscles in your foot or around the ankle that are causing the pain, and if your arch needs more support and recommend proper footwear and support. They can also address if you have other weakness that is contributing to the ankle pain or could even be the overall cause. Physical therapists should check for balance as well as things like if you stand on the outside or inside of your feet, and do you stand more toward the front of your foot or back on your heels. All of this plays into how your ankle moves and your overall balance.
Your ankle plays a big part in your balance and from a therapy standpoint is where balance starts. If you are experiencing ankle pain you usually aren’t standing normally on that foot/ankle and this means all of your balance is primarily on your “good leg”. Now you are standing on a smaller area and could be more prone to falls or causing more injuries, all because of ankle pain. At Anderson Physical Therapy we want to make sure your ankles and feet aren’t going to cause you another injury because you ankle hurt and you fell because you couldn’t walk on that ankle normally. Please always remember that pain in an area that doesn’t go away quickly could lead to other problems that could be prevented by addressing that “pesky ankle pain” right from the start.