Ankle + Foot Pain

Woman with one high heel off rubbing her ankle and foot in pain

Definition

Physical discomfort in the ankle area including pain into the calf muscle and foot muscles.

Root Causes

Arthritis, Bursitis, Gout, Plantar Fasciitis, Sports Injury, Sprain, Strain, Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, Tendinitis

Risk Factors

Age, Diabetes, Excessive Exercise, Flat Feet, High Heels, Obesity, Standing For Long Periods, Walking Gait

Treatments

Custom Orthotics, KT Taping, Night Splints, Physical Therapy

Appointment Inquiries

Why does my foot hurt?

Your symptoms of ankle, foot, or heel pain can be from a variety of causes. You may have tendinitis, bursitis, or tarsal tunnel syndrome (like carpal tunnel, but in your ankle), or it may be something more severe such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or gout.

But other than acute pain from ankle injuries, heel spurs, and sprained or fractured ankle, the most common cause of chronic pain in the ankle, foot, and heel is from plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis means inflammation of the bands in the bottom of the foot. These bands are the plantar fascia ligaments that run from the heel bone to the toes. It is what forms the arch of your foot. The plantar fascia functions as a shock absorber and supports the arch of your foot.

What causes plantar fasciitis?

When your plantar fascia experiences overuse and excessive pressure, you can strain and tear the tissue causing various types of pain in the heel bones, calf muscle, and ankle joint.

Common causes of plantar fasciitis calf include:

  • Standing or walking on hard surfaces for long periods of time
  • High-intensity activities, like running, dance, aerobics, etc
  • Wearing shoes with poor arch support, such as thin-soled shoes or high heels
  • Flat feet or high arches
  • Obesity

Most common symptoms of plantar fasciitis

We see foot, ankle, and calf pain in both middle-aged men and women, but it can happen to almost anyone, especially if you are constantly on your feet.

People with plantar fasciitis might feel painful conditions, such as:

  • A sharp or stabbing pain in the bottom of the foot or heel
  • Pain in one foot or both feet, especially first thing in the morning
  • Pain in the toes, foot, ankle, or calf especially when standing for a long time

For you, this might translate as swelling or tenderness from your toes to your ankles to your knees. It may also lead to a limp as you attempt to compensate for the pain, especially if it is mostly in one foot or ankle more often.

How do you diagnose plantar fasciitis and other foot & ankle problems?

Here at BackFit Health + Spine, your doctor will provide you with an exam. They will first look at your ankle and foot, checking specifically for the signs of flat feet or high arches. Your doctor will also test for tenderness, swelling, redness, stiffness, or tightness in your arch, ankle, and calf.

Your doctor may also ask you to walk naturally for them. This will allow them to analyze your gait (or walking patterns), as well as identify subluxations in your pelvis and spine. They may also recommend an on-site digital x-ray, ultrasound, or MRI scan to rule out other causes of heel pain.

How does BackFit treat ankle and foot pain?

Most patients with plantar fasciitis, bursitis, arthritis, and more are effectively treated for foot and ankle pain with the following measures:

  • Orthotics: we’ll offer recommendations for good support. And as needed, we provide custom orthotics (shoe inserts).
  • Physical Therapy: we can design an exercise program to focus on stretching and strengthening your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, calf, and more.
  • KT Taping: Kinesiology Therapeutic taping is the application of athletic tape to any muscle, in this case the ankle or bottom of foot, to provide support of movement.
  • Night Splints: this medical equipment can be used at night to hold your foot and ankle in position over night, stretching it and assisting it to heal.
  • Chiropractic Care: our doctors of chiropractic will make sure your spine and pelvis are in line, and can also adjust the foot and ankle too.
  • PENS Therapy: percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is medical acupuncture and used to treat chronic nerve pain which is very common in the feet.
  • Trigger Point Injections: if you have severe knots in your feet, ankles, or calves, we can use TPI to help in breaking these down.
  • Medical Services: If necessary, we can prescribe some anti-inflammatories to assist with the pain and healing.
  • Tenex Procedure: this minimally invasive tendon repair uses ultrasound to view and remove damaged tissue.
  • Pain Management: while working on the underlying issue with you, we may suggest and offer some pain treatment solutions in the short-term.

Avoiding treatment of ankle, heel, and foot pain can lead to irreparable nerve damage. In some very rare cases, we may recommend surgery to release the plantar fascia and ankle.

Beyond these treatments that we do in BackFit, you may also initially benefit from ice or ice massages over the painful area 2 or more times a day for 10 to 15 minutes, as well as resting to decrease or avoid activities that make the pain worse while we work with you to get back to your life!

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