Foot and Ankle Pain
Foot and ankle pain can be caused by a variety of things, including injury, arthritis, wear and tear, and other conditions. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the pain.
Common causes of foot and ankle pain include:
Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of foot and ankle pain. It is one of the most common causes of stabbing heel pain. It is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a long thin ligament that runs under the skin along the bottom of the foot. It connects the heel to the front of the foot and supports the arch. It absorbs a lot of stress and strain and too much can damage or tear the ligament which causes inflammation and heal pain and stiffness. Runners and overweight people often suffer with plantar fasciitis. If often hurts as soon as you take steps after getting out of bed and subsides with walking. It can also cause more pain after exercise or activity and can make walking difficult. Treatment options include rest, icing, injections, orthotics, splints, injections, physical therapy and stretching.
Achilles tendonitis is another common cause of foot and ankle pain caused by overuse. It is caused by inflammation of the Achilles tendon, a band of tissue that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body. It is used continually while walking, running, climbing, jumping, and standing on tip toes. Achilles tendonitis can be painful and may make it difficult to walk or run. Treatment options include rest, icing, physical therapy, cortisone injections, splinting, orthotics and stretching. When pain doesn’t improve after six months on conservative management, surgery may be offered.
Arthritis of the foot and ankle
Arthritis is a common cause of foot and ankle pain. There are many different types of arthritis, but the most common type that affects the feet and ankles is osteoarthritis (wear and tear arthritis). Post traumatic arthritis can result from trauma like a fracture to the ankle or big toe. Osteoarthritis causes swelling, pain, and stiffness. Treatment options include pain relief medications, orthotics, physical therapy, and surgery.
Hallux Rigidus (Stiff Big Toe)
Hallux rigidus is arthritis of the base big toe that causes bone spurs. It causes stiffness and pain in the big toe that is so painful that you may start walking on the outside of the foot to avoid the pain. Treatment options include nonsurgical treatments like medication, hot and cold therapy, wearing stiff soled shoes, physical therapy, and surgery may involve removing bone spurs, fusing the bones, and replacing the joint.
Posterior Tibial Tendonitis
Posterior tibial tendonitis is a condition that causes pain and swelling in the ankle and foot. It is caused by inflammation and tears of the posterior tibial tendon, a band of tissue that connects the calf muscle to the bone on the inside of the foot. The pain occurs along the inside of the foot and ankle and worsens with activity. When the tendon becomes inflamed it may not be able to support the arch and cause flatfoot. When the arch collapses the pain will be on the outside of the ankle. Treatments include orthotics and bracing and rest, icing, and physical therapy. When that fails, surgery may be offered.
Sesamoiditis is a condition that causes pain in the ball of the foot usually under the big toe. It is caused by inflammation of the sesamoids, small bones that are located under the first metatarsal bone (the big toe), usually due to overuse. It is often seen in dances, runners, and athletes who stand on their toes. Treatment options include rest, icing, activity modification, taping, injections, bracing and physical therapy.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the foot. It is caused by entrapment of the nerves in the tarsal tunnel, a narrow passageway on the inside of the ankle. It is like carpal tunnel in the wrist. Up to 43% of cases have a history of trauma including ankle sprains. Diabetes, gout, hypothyroidism, and high cholesterol are risk factors. Treatment options include medication, physical therapy, and surgery.
Bunions are a deformity of the big toe caused by a misalignment of the bones in the joint. Bunions can be painful due to the bump rubbing on the shoe which makes it difficult to wear shoes. They usually develop slowly and worsen with time causing the big toe to lean on the second toe. This also alters foot mechanics and changes the position of ligaments, bone, and tendons. Women are more often affected than men. 70% of women with bunions have a family history. Treatment options include wearing wider shoes, orthotics, NSAIDS pain medication and surgery.
Hammertoe is a deformity of the second, third or fourth toes caused by a muscle imbalance that creates pressure on the toe tendons and joints. If caught early, it can be fixed. Left alone the affected toes will become inflexible and require surgery. Most often it is caused by wearing shoes that are too narrow forcing the toes to push on to smaller toes in a flexed position. This causes corns and calluses and aggravates the condition. Hammertoes are painful and the inability to bend the toes makes it difficult to wear shoes. Treatment options for hammertoe include OTC medications, cushions and pads, exercises, and surgery.
Ingrown toenails are a condition in which the edges of the toenail grow into the flesh. They are often caused wearing shoes that are too tight or shorts. Wearing high heels aggravates the condition. However, trimming toenails to taper at the curves rather than straight across causes the sides of the nail to curl down and dig into the skin. They can be re, swollen, painful and may cause infection. Treatment options include soaking the foot in warm water, wearing loose-fitting shoes, and correctly trimming the nails. In the worst case, surgery to partially or completely removing the nail will be necessary.
Morton’s Neuroma is a condition that feels like you stepped on a marble that progresses into a sensation of having stepped on a piece of glass in the middle of the ball of the foot. The cause is unknown but is entrapment of the nerves leading to the toes that causes swelling and inflammation. Wearing high heels aggravates the condition. They are more common in women between the ages of 30 and 60. Treatment options for neuroma include medication, physical therapy, and surgery.
When you have foot or ankle pain, contact the experts at Ortho Illinois. We can help you get back to the life you love.