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Foot and Ankle Pain

The foot and ankle can be affected by a number of different conditions, some of the most common injuries and complaints include:

  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Achilles Tendinopathy
  • Ligament Sprains

What is it and what are the symptoms?

Plantar Fasciitis

Commonly the pain is in the arch of the foot and/or at the heel. It is due to inflammation at the attachment point of the fascia, beneath the heel. Most of the time the pain does not have a specific onset, it gradually builds up. However occasionally it can be felt following a long walk, change of footwear or overuse.

Achilles Tendinopathy

This is an inflammation or degeneration of the Achilles tendon, which runs down the back of the heel connecting the calf muscles to the foot. It usually occurs through overuse or excessive repetitive exercise, such as running.

Ligament Sprain

The common term of ‘rolling the ankle’, this is an acute injury and has a very specific onset, you will know when it happens. It is likely that there will be swelling, bruising and stiffness around the ankle joint. There are a number of ligaments around the ankle, the main ones include three on the outside and one on the inside of the joint, the damaged ligament can normally be determined by the way in which the injury was sustained. There are also a number of special tests that therapists can use to determine the exact ligament that is injured.

What can be done to help?

Plantar Fasciitis

A combination of ice, supportive footwear, stretching/strengthening exercises and massage will
help to reduce the pain beneath the foot.

Achilles Tendinopathy

Stretching, strengthening, massage and some taping techniques combined will be the best route to recovery. Ice will also help to reduce any inflammation at the tendon.

Ligament Sprain

Ice and rest is needed initially for this acute injury, normal walking function and gait pattern should be resumed as quickly as possible. Once the pain has settled substantially some simple exercises should be implemented to regain strength and proprioception around the area, as well as stretches to reduce any stiffness. In most cases the pain should settle between four and six weeks post injury. Treatment can help during this time to promote the healing process.

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A thorough movement assessment would be beneficial, this will take a look at the body as a whole and highlight any dysfunctional movement patterns which may slow down recovery or potentially cause further injury.

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