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  • Ankle and Foot Pain

Foot and Ankle Pain

Ankle Sprain/Strain

An ankle sprain or strain involves an injury to the soft tissues of the ankle. Sprains involve injury to ligaments (the bands of tissue that connect bones together) within the joint and strains refer to injuries of muscles and tendons.

Most ankle sprains and strains occur from an injury that causes the ankle to twist in an unnatural motion, stretches the tendons or ligaments, or applies a greater than normal force on the ankle joint. This can occur during participation in sports, while walking on an uneven surface or stepping or landing in a hole, or even with unexpected everyday activities in which the foot lands awkwardly. Most sprains occur when the ankle is turned inward or inverted, with the resulting injury occurring to the outside of the ankle. Ankle strains can also be the result of an overuse injury.

Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation, irritation, or degeneration of tissue of the Achilles tendon, causing pain in the heel or in the lower leg above the heel. The Achilles tendon connects the muscles in the back of the leg (lower calf) to the foot (at the heel) and is the largest tendon in the body. The injury can be acute or chronic and is most commonly seen in runners and athletes. Individuals with Achilles tendonitis may have a difficult time walking.

The primary cause of Achilles tendonitis is overusing the tendon, typically occurring when there is a sudden increase in the frequency or intensity of an exercise. Other causes that can contribute to Achilles tendonitis are related to situations that stress the Achilles tendon, such as overpronation of the feet, weak or tight calf muscles, wearing high heels often but then exercising in flat shoes, changes in training surfaces or inclines, or not allowing the body sufficient rest between exercising. Improper conditioning or activities that repeatedly stress the tendon (such as jumping or quick stops and starts) can also contribute to the condition.

Tendonitis

Tendonitis is an inflammation or irritation of a tendon, a cord-like structure that connects muscles to bones. There are hundreds of tendons located throughout the body. Tendonitis can occur in any part of the body in which tendons are located, but most often occurs in certain locations such as the elbow, shoulder (rotator cuff), wrist, knee, hip and ankle (Achilles tendon). Tendonitis typically causes pain due to inflammation and swelling. In some cases, a loss of mobility of the joint will occur due to excessive inflammation.

Tendonitis is often caused by repetitive overuse of a joint that causes irritation and inflammation of the tendons. The condition can also be caused by a direct trauma to the joint, can occur in conjunction with other conditions and injuries, or can be caused by some medical conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout).

Shin Splints (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome)

Shin splints are an injury causing pain along the lower front of the leg (along the front and inside edge of the shin). The pain is caused by stress on the shinbone (tibia) and the connective tissues that attach the muscles in the lower leg to the shinbone. Shin splints are also known as medial tibial stress syndrome.

Shin splints are a result of an overload of stress on the shinbone and the connective tissues that attach the surrounding muscles to the bone. Running is the most common cause of shin splints. The condition can result from excessive training, increasing the frequency, duration or intensity of an activity too much or too fast, running on slanted, downhill, or hard surfaces for prolonged periods, engaging in activities requiring frequent stops and starts, or wearing footwear that does not provide enough cushioning or support (usually because it is worn out). Overpronation or oversupination of the feet can make it more likely that individuals will suffer from shin splints.

Ankle Instability

Chronic ankle instability is a condition in which the ankle repeatedly “gives way” while engaged in physical activities, walking, standing, or when weight or pressure is placed on the ankle. Instability typically affects the lateral side (outside) of the ankle, resulting in a turning in, or inversion, of the ankle. Ankle instability can result in constant or recurrent pain, tenderness, swelling, and a feeling that the ankle may give out at any time.

Repeated ankle sprains or sprains that have not healed properly can result in chronic ankle instability. Each time the ankle is sprained, the ligaments are stretched or torn, and if the area is not effectively strengthened following an injury, the ligaments may remain weak and can result in repeated sprains or instability of the ankle joint. Connective tissue disorders may also lead to chronic ankle instability.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which compression of the posterior tibial nerve, located within the tarsal tunnel on the inside of the ankle, causes pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in the ankle and foot. More severe cases of the condition can result in permanent nerve damage. The causes and effects of tarsal tunnel syndrome on the ankle and foot are similar to those of carpal tunnel syndrome on the wrist and hand.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused by a compression of the posterior tibial nerve, which travels from the back of the leg, through the inside of the ankle, and into the foot within a narrow space called the tarsal tunnel. The tarsal tunnel is covered by a thick ligament that protects the nerves, arteries, veins and tendons that run through the space. Anything that causes swelling in this area can cause compression of the nerve. This includes ankle sprains, or other injuries that may cause swelling in the area, systemic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout or diabetes, or any structure that is enlarged in the area of the tarsal tunnel that may cause nerve compression, such as a bone spur, scar tissue, ganglion cyst, enlarged muscle or varicose vein. In some cases, individuals with flat feet will suffer from compression of nerves in the tarsal tunnel. The condition can also arise due to overuse, such as excessive walking, running, exercising, or standing.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a condition causing pain, irritation, inflammation and swelling along the plantar fascia ligament in the bottom of the foot and the heel. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot pain.

Plantar fasciitis is caused by an inflammation or tightness of the plantar fascia, a thick ligament located along the bottom of the foot. Some factors that can increase the likelihood of suffering from the condition include having a tight Achilles tendon, being flatfooted or having very high arches, and being overweight or gaining weight suddenly. Those who engage in excessive running or walking may be more likely to develop the condition.

Arthritis (Osteoarthritis / Rheumatoid Arthritis)

There are many type of arthritis, a condition that primarily causes inflammation, pain and limited mobility in the joints. Symptoms of arthritis are caused by a breakdown of cartilage surrounding the joint, which normally acts like a shock absorber and prevents bones from rubbing together. Some types of arthritis are a result of regular or excessive wear and tear on the joints and cartilage surrounding the joints, while others are a result of metabolic or immune system abnormalities, infections or injury. Each type of arthritis has slightly different symptoms, causes and treatments.

Causes of arthritis are based on the type of arthritis an individual suffers from. Osteoarthritis, for example, is a result of wear and tear on the cartilage around joints or can arise after sustaining an injury. Gout, another form of arthritis, is a metabolic condition. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an overactive immune system. Other types of arthritis may be caused by infections, injury or other medical or physical conditions.

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