Why does my ankle or 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 arthritis or gout.

But other than acute injury, the most common cause of ankle, foot, and heel pain is from plantar fasciitis.

This literally translates as inflammation of the bands in the bottom of the foot. These bands runs from the heel bone to the toes, and 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 heel, calf, and ankle pain.

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

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.

If you have plantar fasciitis specifically, you might feel it 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 and 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 will 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.
  • Graston Therapy: also known as "scraping," we can use a metal instrument to break down any scar tissue and assist in soft tissue mobilization.
  • 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.

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!

Ready to stop suffering from ankle and foot pain?
Schedule a consultation with our team of doctors today

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