What’s Causing Your Foot and Ankle Pain?
Updated: Nov 5, 2021
Physical Therapy for Your Feet and Ankles: Kicking the Pain
The amount of time we spend on our feet on any given day is extraordinary. Because of this, if you are suffering from foot or ankle pain, your daily life can suddenly become impacted. Physical therapy has been proven to help with the rehabilitation of injured feet and ankles, in addition to providing relief for both acute and chronic pain.
How does foot and ankle pain develop?
It is no secret that both your feet and ankles are very complex structures. They must work together in harmony in order to function at their optimal levels. The ankle consists of three bones that all must interact with one another correctly, in addition to the various connective tissues that hold the assembly of the joint together.
However, it may come as a surprise that the foot is an even more complex part of the body than the ankle. The foot is comprised of approximately two dozen bones, 30 joints, and over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Due to all the complicated structures that make up your feet and ankles, pain felt in those areas is extremely common. Whether your pain is mild or severe, serious limitations can be put on your daily life. We work with a large dance population, largely made up of ballet and contemporary dancers.
Physical therapy for foot and ankle pain:
Our physical therapy practice provides treatment for both acute and chronic foot and ankle pain. At your initial appointment, one of our physical therapists will conduct a thorough examination in order to form a diagnosis regarding what is causing your pain. From there, they will create an individualized treatment plan for your specific needs.
Acute injuries are typically prescribed R.I.C.E treatments (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) for the first few days, in order to make sure that any swelling subsides before your treatment plan begins. After that, you can begin more specialized treatments.
Treatment plans typically include targeted stretches and exercises in order to strengthen the foot and ankle muscles, improve balance, and restore joint mobility. Additional treatment methods may include trigger point dry needling, manual therapy, instrument assisted soft tissue massage (IASTM) or low level laser therapy.
Ankle and Foot Fractures
There are many bones that can be fractured in the ankle and foot. Typical fractures that occur are to the fibula bone (avulsion fracture), metatarsal bone fractures and calcaneal fractures. Fractures are typically immobilized with casting or bracing. In severe cases surgery may be required to align and stabilize the bone with pins or plates.
After being immobile for a period of time whether from casting or surgery, the ankle and foot joints will become quite stiff. This loss of motion in the joint also causes discomfort and results in lost muscle strength in the ankle and foot.
Physical therapy is very important in the rehabilitative process to help you regain normal range of motion, reduce swelling, resolve pain and regain function of your ankle and foot.
Physical therapy is gentle and will help you quickly resolve your pain while working with your doctor to follow protocol and restore your function. Improvement in range of motion, strength, stability, walking and running will occur. With physical therapy, you can make a complete recovery quickly and safely. Call us today to learn more about how we can help you fully recover after a fracture.
Ankle Sprain / Strain
Ankle sprains are very common injuries and typically occur from improper footwear on uneven terrain. Most often, sprains occur from sports or trips over objects that were unseen. Sprains refer to injuries of the ligaments (connect bone to bone) and strains refer to injuries of the muscles or tendons (connect muscle to bone). Sprains and strains occur from quick overstretching of the tissues causing micro-tearing and subsequent injury. Swelling begins as part of the inflammation process, causing pain and difficulty with movement.
The first step in treating sprains or strains in the ankle is to rest, ice and elevate it. Common sprains in the ankle occur on the outside of the ankle where 3 main ligaments attach. There are different levels of sprain or strain from mild to severe. With severe limitations in movement you should see your physical therapist right away. In some cases, the tearing can be complete and even be in need of surgical repair.
How physical therapy helps
In most cases, physical therapy can effectively help you recover from a sprain or strain. We first evaluate the injured area to determine the extent of the injury and ensure that the ligaments or tendons are still intact. We then formulate a treatment plan that will quickly relieve your swelling, pain and begin restoring range of motion.
The goal of physical therapy is to restore your normal range of motion and eventually restore normal strength. If you participate in sports or are very active, we will work closely with you to make sure that you fully recover and can participate in those activities you love to do. Call us today to discover how we can effectively treat your ankle sprain or strain.
Foot and Ankle Post-surgery Rehab
There are many different surgeries for the foot and ankle from fracture repairs to tissue repair from trauma. In addition, common surgeries such as bunionectomies, hammer toe, and even ankle fusions will require physical therapy.
After surgery, due to limited post-operative movement and inflammation from the surgery, your range of motion and strength will be diminished. The loss of strength and range of motion in the foot or ankle can cause many problems in daily life including difficulty standing for short periods of time and an inability to easily use a set of stairs. When you are unable to stand for periods of time or walk on your own it can result in lost work hours and financial loss. But with a skilled physical therapist working with you, you can get great results and return to previous activities without pain or loss of function.
How physical therapy helps
Physical therapy is an important part of the rehabilitative process after ankle or foot surgery. Depending on your surgery and surgical protocols, we will progress you through a structured physical therapy rehabilitation program. Our goal is to restore pain-free range of motion in the ankle or foot while maintaining surgical rehab protocols. Our highly skilled physical therapists will also work to improve your walking coordination, balance, and strength to ensure that you are able to return to normal pain-free walking and have the ability to easily traverse a set of stairs.
About Ankle instability
Ankle instability typically occurs after the ligaments in the ankle have stretched out, losing the normal stability of the bones in the ankle and foot. This can be a result of an injury or occur over a long period of time from poor foot positioning, bad shoe wear or genetic predisposition.
When there is ankle instability the probability of further ankle sprains increases significantly. While the ligaments themselves may not be able to shorten back to normal, the muscles supporting the ankle can be strengthened to take up the slack. This compensation allows for better stability in the ankle and foot with walking, running and sports. Bracing may also be needed depending on the severity of the instability.
How physical therapy helps
Our physical therapists work with different physicians, including podiatrists to rehabilitate ankle and foot injuries. By assessing your ankle and foot joint movements we can determine what areas need to be strengthened bringing support and stability to your ankle.
With years of training in analyzing and treating joint mechanics, walking and movement, we put together a custom treatment plan that will improve your ankle stability.
Call us today to discover how we can help increase your ankle stability!