Foot Health Blog
Find expert articles from physical therapists and podiatrists to help understand, diagnose, and treat different foot health issues such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, flat feet, and more.
Causes of Burning Feet
Burning feet syndrome is a medical condition characterized by severe burning and aching sensations in the feet. The burning sensation is usually worse at night and often limited to the soles of the feet. Pain may be intermittent or constant and ranging from mild to severe. When it occurs, the feet may feel hot, tingly, prickly, or simply numb. Other symptoms of burning feet syndrome include redness of the skin, hypersensitivity, and vasomotor changes. Burning feet is a sign of nerve damage, although it can also result in fatigue or skin infection. As a result, the management of burning feet is often directed at preventing further nerve damage and relieving pain. What Causes Burning Feet? There are many causes of burning feet. Unfortunately, without a proper diagnosis of the cause, treatment may prove futile. Some of the most common causes include heavy alcohol intake, chemical exposure, chemotherapy, metabolic disorders, tarsal tunnel syndrome, nutritional deficiency, peripheral arterial disease, prolonged standing, tight and ill-fitting shoes, etc. We explain each in more detail below: Metabolic Disorders An underactive thyroid results in hypothyroidism and causes a disruption in hormonal balances within the body. This can cause swelling which in turn causes nerve compression, leading to burning feet syndrome. Likewise, a case of type 1 and 2 diabetes can also cause a burning sensation in the feet. Nutritional Deficiency The deficiency of vitamins B5, B-12 and E can cause a sensation of burning feet as the vitamins play a role in nerve health. For example, vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that aids the functioning of the nervous system by stimulating myelin production and ensuring proper nerve conduction. Likewise, there may be a problem with vitamin absorption after a gastric bypass. In both cases, the result is vitamin B deficiency. This leads to burning feet which can worsen if the deficiency is not handled. Heavy Alcohol Intake Heavy alcohol intake can result in alcoholic neuropathy characterized by burning feet. Other associated symptoms include muscle weakness, muscle spasms, loss of muscle function, urinary and bowel dysfunction, vertigo, and impaired speech. Exposure to Chemicals Prolonged exposure to heavy metals and many industrial chemicals can cause peripheral neuropathy symptoms. Some medications used to treat certain conditions like HIV or seizures can also have a negative effect that results in nerve damage. Chemotherapy Chemicals used to irradiate cancer cells may cause peripheral neuropathy as a side effect. Other neuromuscular effects of chemotherapy may include tiredness, aching, muscle sprains, slow reflexes or motor skills, and balance and coordination problems. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome Tarsal tunnel syndrome refers to a condition where the nerve that runs from the ankle to the foot is squeezed because of swelling or injury. This can lead to pain and burning in the foot. The pain may extend up the leg. Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) PAD presents with similar symptoms to that of peripheral neuropathy. It occurs as a result of the narrowing of the arteries in the leg and feet. This causes a burning sensation and pain in the feet. Prolonged Standing Prolonged standing can place the feet under intense stress and lead to severe burning in the feet. This is especially true when standing is done with improper footwear that doesn’t offer enough support or cushioning to the heel. Tight and Ill-Fitting Shoes When you wear improper shoes, you will exert more pressure on different areas of the feet. The increase in pressure can cause nerve compression and inadvertently lead to a burning sensation in the feet. Infections and Inflammation Burning feet is also a symptom of many infectious diseases, including tinea pedis (Athletes' foot), Lyme disease, HIV, syphilis, and shingles. How Do You Know if You Have Burning Feet? For people whose burning feet is traceable to a medical condition like diabetes, the diagnosis of burning feet is straightforward. When this is not possible, a detailed medical history is necessary to make a diagnosis. Upon presentation at the office of your doctor, the doctor will ask for a report of the history of your symptoms. That way, he will be able to determine the course of the symptoms, their progression, severity, intensity, and nature. Afterwards, the doctor will conduct a physical examination of the feet. Any observable changes in the feet will be noted and recorded. Additional investigations may also be needed. For example, the doctor can order a blood test to identify any nutritional deficiencies or endocrinal disorder. Where nerve damage is suspected, a nerve function test may also be prescribed. Other tests that may be carried out include an electromyography, nerve conduction test, and nerve biopsy.
AnkleAnkle Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms, and TreatmentAnkle arthritis is a disorder in which the cartilage in the tibiotalar joint, which connects the foot to the leg, is damaged or worn out. The tibia, fibula, and farm are the three bones that make up this joint. Any or all of these bones may be affected by severe ankle arthritis. Common symptoms of ankle arthritis include painful, tender, and stiff joints that make it difficult to walk or put weight on your feet. Additional symptoms include swelling and a restricted range of motion. Early detection of arthritis in patients is important in reducing the chances of harmful long-term consequences. Even though rheumatoid arthritis (RA) cannot be prevented, early detection in patients is crucial. A better understanding of the disease can help you adjust and limit its impact, lowering the risk of severe long-term effects. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis who are treated well can often prevent deformity and live a normal life span. Stopping inflammation has been demonstrated to lessen the risk of heart issues as well as joint swelling and ankle pain. Causes of Ankle Arthritis Injury Sprains, fractures, and other injuries are very common in the ankle, and a post-traumatic joint is associated with about 12% of ankle arthritis occurrences. Any joint injured several times is more likely to develop arthritis. Some research has shown that ankle arthritis affects 70-80% of those who have had an injury to their ankle. Underlying Medical Conditions Research has noted that about 12% of ankle arthritis cases occur from an underlying medical problem. Rheumatoid arthritis, reactive arthritis, blood abnormalities (hemophilia), clubfoot or other congenital anomalies, and poor blood circulation damage the bones and cartilage of the ankle joint and are all conditions that can increase the chance of developing ankle osteoarthritis. No Known Cause Primary ankle arthritis occurs when ankle arthritis is not triggered by a trauma or an underlying medical disease. Only around 10% of ankle arthritis cases are due to primary ankle arthritis, according to research. People with primary ankle arthritis are typically older, have less pain, and have a greater range of motion than those who develop ankle arthritis as a result of an injury or other underlying condition. How Is Ankle Arthritis Diagnosed? An X-ray of your foot and ankle may be recommended by your doctor to confirm a diagnosis of arthritis and establish the severity of the condition. X-rays produce images of the bones in the foot and ankle, which doctors examine for any noticeable changes in joint space. For uncommon conditions, other tests such as an MRI or CT scan may be used. Blood testing may be used to diagnose ankle arthritis when it is part of a systemic disorder. Occasionally, a bone scan may be useful. Surgical Treatments for Ankle Arthritis A person's actions can be severely hampered if they lose the use of their ankle joint. Surgery to replace or stabilize the joint may be recommended if this occurs. With some forms of surgery, you can expect an improvement in the appearance of malformed joints. Methods of repair include: Ankle arthroscopy A lighted scope and tiny devices are placed through small incisions in the ankles during this minimally invasive surgery. Surgeons remove cartilage or bone fragments from the joint space. Ankle fusion In fusion, surgeons remove the surfaces of the arthritis-affected bones and link them together with plates and screws until they grow together. The reduction of pain can be tremendous, but it comes at a cost: the loss of up-and-down and side-to-side movement. Joint replacement Ankle replacement is a difficult procedure that requires a high level of surgical expertise. The surgeon makes an incision in the front of the ankle, removes the damaged bone and cartilage, reshapes the surfaces, and joins the artificial joint components using a specific glue during ankle replacement. The ankle is supported and stabilized by bone grafts and screws. Non-Surgical Treatments for Ankle Arthritis Your doctor may advise you to use shoe inserts (orthotics for arthritis), an ankle brace, or a cane. Another alternative is an ankle-foot orthosis, which is a custom-made shoe with a firm sole and a rocker bottom (AFO). Custom orthotics, such as MASS4D®, can enhance ankle stability in arthritis by restoring optimal range of motion at the ankle joint complex and allowing for an even distribution of pressure throughout the plantar surface of the foot. There are many benefits of arch support for your feet and ankles, including those that are arthritic. Exercises and Other Techniques Here are some exercises that can help with ankle arthritis: Toe press, point, and curl are all variations on the same theme. Raise your heels and press down with your toes.Spread your toes as wide as possible and hold for five seconds.Marble pickup and ball rolling.Achilles stretching.Ankle rotations. Other methods include: Injecting a steroid into the joint.Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling.Pain relievers.Soothing foot baths to relieve pain. When to See a Doctor for Ankle Arthritis If you experience severe pain or swelling, symptoms of infection in the afflicted area such as redness, warmth, or tenderness, or a temperature of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or if your pain level is bad enough that you are unable to put weight on the foot and it is affecting your daily functioning, you should see a doctor immediately.
PronationHow to Fix Overpronated AnklesAnkle overpronation, often known as flat feet, is a natural occurrence that occurs when the arches of the foot roll inward or downward while walking. The foot strikes the outside of the heel, then rolls inward (pronates), shifting weight to the inner edge of the foot rather than the ball of the foot. Overpronation can also occur while standing, and pronation refers to the degree that the foot rolls inward toward the arch. As such, it is easy to check for overpronation by dipping your feet in water and standing normally on a sheet of cardboard or paper. If your connecting arch fills more than half of the width of the impression, there's a good chance you have overpronation. People who overpronate are more likely to sustain particular injuries and knee, hip, and back pain. This is because it creates more impact when the foot strikes the ground by disrupting the body's normal position. Overpronators, athletes especially, are more prone to overuse injuries. Causes and Risk Factors of Overpronation Flat feet and overpronation are often related and influenced by each other. Overpronation occurs when the muscles, ligaments, and plantar fascia (arch) of the foot are strained, overused, or worn down, causing the foot to flatten too much and roll inward as it contacts the ground. Sometimes people with flat feet are born with them. However, certain factors and circumstances might raise a person's risk of developing flat feet or weakened arches, which can contribute to overpronation. The following are some examples of causal conditions and situations: PregnancyBeing overweight or obeseParticipating in any activity that requires striking the foot repeatedly on a hard surface for an extended period of time, such as runningWearing incorrect footwear Can Overpronation Be Cured? Yes, foot and ankle overpronation is curable. A doctor might suggest a variety of treatments to reduce pain and avoid re-injury. Treatment options for overpronation include the following: Selecting footwear the supports the archesWearing orthotics or insoles for overpronationExercising to strengthen the arches and the muscles that surround them People who have been injured by overpronation can take efforts to prevent further damage. The fusion can take up to 12 weeks to properly heal, and no weight should be placed on the foot for at least half of that time. Because of the lengthy immobilization, physical treatment may also be required. Footwear for Treating and Preventing Overpronation Things to look for while choosing orthotics or footwear for overpronated feet include: Overpronation stability shoes These use a strong midsole motion control system known as a medial post, and sometimes ankle braces, to stabilize the foot and help with overpronation. Adequate cushioning Overpronation necessitates the use of specialized cushioning technology. Look for a foam that is both soft and springy while yet being stable. Limited flexibility Shoes with excessive flexibility will exacerbate your foot's natural tendency to roll inward. It's critical that your footwear keeps your feet secure. Reinforced heel counters These are a frequent component of stability shoes that provide maximal support for overpronated feet during a long run. Wear your orthotics for overpronation only two to three times during the day, a few minutes at a time, for the first few days. Remove your orthotics in between wears to give your body a rest, and increase the time you wear them daily. Exercises for Treating and Preventing Overpronation A physical therapist is referred to a person with overpronation for strengthening exercises to correct pronation. These exercises for collapsed arches should help strengthen the muscles, help to lower loading forces, and reduce the pain of flat feet: Calf Raises Your feet should be together when you stand.Engage your calves by rising onto the balls of your feet.Lower down until you feel a stretch in your calveskeep your knees straight but not locked. Glute Bridge Lie down on your back.Wrap a resistance band around your legs, slightly above your knees.Raise your hips and push your knees out further.Maintain outward tension on the band as you return to the starting position. Jump Lunge Begin with your right thigh parallel to the floor in a lunge position.Jump high and switch legs in mid-air, bringing the left leg forward.Land as softly as possible. A-Skip Start skipping with your feet together, forcing your right knee up hard to raise you off the ground.Drive your foot back down toward the ground while keeping it flexedRepeat on the other side. Other Ways to Treat Overpronation Excessive pronation can be treated conservatively by realigning the foot using a stiff orthotic to realign the subtalar joint. This type of orthotic is typically worn indefinitely. Another option is surgical reconstruction, though this is difficult and time-consuming. If surgery is required, it may take up to a year to return to your previous state. When Should You See a Doctor for Overpronation? A diagnosis can be made by a podiatrist, orthopedic surgeon, or physical therapist. If you are enduring pain or a persistent injury as a result of overpronation, you should visit a specialist, especially after self-correction treatments have failed you.
AnkleAnkle Pain Symptom Checker: Why Your Ankle HurtsAnkle pain has many potential causes due to the complexity of the joint and the amount of stress it is exposed to daily. Ankle pain can therefore stem from any of the structures that make up the ankle joint and muscles of the lower leg. When identifying the cause of your ankle pain, it is essential to understand how the injury occurred—if any—and whether the pain arose suddenly or has festered for a longer period. This will guide you in identifying the cause of your ankle pain and the best treatment options available. Symptoms That Accompany Ankle Pain Swelling around the anklePainful moving jointBruising Burning pain sensationInability to bear weightRedness and inflammationStiffness in the ankleFeelings of instability Should the onset of pain be without a memorable incident to the ankle, as mentioned above, conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and more should be considered. Common Causes of Ankle Pain Osteoarthritis Characterized by pain and/or stiffness occurring in the joint due to the breakdown of the cartilage causing the bones to rub against each other, leading to the development of pain over time. Repeated ankle sprains or fractures can increase the chances of developing arthritis in the affected joint in the future. It is also more common in persons over the age of 65. Other symptoms include: Pain and/or stiffness in affected joint Pain and/or stiffness at night Swelling around the jointReduced ability to move or walk Rheumatoid Arthritis Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that leads to inflammation and pain around the body. The ongoing inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis leads to bone and cartilage erosion and joint deformity, usually in multiple joints throughout the body. In severe cases, RA can affect your internal organs. Gout Gout falls under the category of arthritis. Although a less common cause of ankle pain, gout does cause pain and inflammation through the accumulation of uric acid deposits in the joints as the kidneys cannot clear the waste products from the blood. Medical advice should be sought immediately if you have any of the following symptoms and suspect you have gout: Severe painSwellingFeeling of warmth and stiffness in one or more jointsPainful lumpsSudden flare-up of pain Achilles Tendon Injuries Characterized by pain felt over the back side of your leg in the area of the lower calf muscle when attempting to push your foot downwards or stand on your toes. Should you hear a loud “snap” after you suffer an injury, seek advice from a medical practitioner immediately, as you may have ruptured a tendon. Ankle Sprains Ankle sprains are characterized by a ligament overstretching or rupturing. An inability to flex the foot down and twist inwards with noticeable pain on the front and outside of the ankle usually indicates ligament involvement. Ankle sprains are a common cause of ankle pain among people of all ages and are a large contributor to osteoarthritis experienced by persons over 65. Rest, ice, compress, and elevate (RICE) the injured ankle to reduce the swelling and pain. Should the pain continue for more than four days with noticeable swelling/bruising around the ankle and an inability to bear weight, seek medical advice. Ankle Fractures The first step in identifying if the cause of your pain is related to a fracture is to discern if there has been an incident involving trauma to the ankle or lower leg, such as a dramatic fall or a severe twisting injury. Pain experienced upon touch or around the bony prominences on the inside and/or the outside of the ankles requires further medical attention and an X-ray. Infection Osteomyelitis is a bone infection caused by bacteria or fungi and characterized by pain and inflammation in the affected bone. Without treatment, swelling from the bone infection can put pressure on and damage surrounding structures. Cellulitis is a skin infection that is painful, red, and swollen. If left untreated, the infection can spread. Medical treatment is required immediately to avoid any complications from infections. Signs of infection include: Fever Lethargy Drainage of pus Loss of appetite Limited and painful movement Overuse injuries Overuse injuries occurring to the ankle and foot are often overlooked by many in identifying the cause of ankle pain. A change of footwear, an increase in distance covered during a running activity in a week, and the use of shoes with a prominent heel can contribute drastically to ankle and foot pain. When to See a Doctor for Ankle Pain Seek medical advice should you experience any of the following symptoms: Pain that is too severe to perform daily activities Any obvious displacement of bone in the lower leg or footPain over the inner and outer ankle bone (medial and lateral malleolus) Inability to bear weight effectively on the ankle several days after the injury Severe bruising around the ankle Can Ankle Pain Be Relieved? Ankle pain can be relieved using orthotics as the first step in the corrective process to aid you in walking and running pain-free again. Custom orthotics from Upstep.com are tailored to your foot specifically to increase cushioning by providing arch support and redistributing the weight evenly, preventing pressure points from developing. Orthotics have been proven to reduce ankle, knee, and back pain by maintaining alignment from the base upwards. Compensatory walking for painful feet and ankles can be avoided, preventing potential pain from arising in other joints or areas. Whether you’re an athlete or someone that works on their feet for many hours, you’ll find benefit from using custom orthotics in your shoes.
AnkleWhy You Might Be Experiencing Sudden Ankle Pain Without InjuryThe ankle joint is complex in nature due to the various bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles that allow the joint to function optimally. The ankle supports the weight of the body as the heel strikes the ground while translating the forward movement of the tibia over the foot. Should ankle pain arise suddenly, there may be an underlying cause as to why you are experiencing these symptoms suddenly. Read further to learn more about why this may be the case and what you can do about it. » Learn about the best shoes for an ankle sprain Possible Causes of Ankle Pain Without Injury You might experience pain in your ankle while running or even while walking. It is possible for ankle pain to arise suddenly without memory or knowledge of an injury occurring to the ankle complex and associated structures. Improper footwear and repetitive overuse injuries to the ankle complex contribute to pain arising in the area, alongside other underlying health conditions listed below. Osteoarthritis The cartilage lining the bones making up the ankle complex breaks down through strain and use of the ankle. This is usually associated with a person’s age. As the cartilage wears away, pain and disability can occur. Rheumatoid arthritis This is an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack cartilage lining the joints of the body. This is common in joints such as the ankle, knee, hips, and smaller finger joints. Achilles tendonitis Achilles tendonitis is often felt as pain towards the back of the ankle or heel. This condition is associated with microtears of the tendon eventually leading to pain. Rest, ice, and self-massage can effectively help you manage pain associated with Achilles tendonitis. Flat feet The fallen arches as seen in people who have flat feet can be a possible cause of ankle pain. Normally, as the foot strikes the ground, the arch serves as a shock absorber for the rest of the body. When the arches have fallen, this shock absorbing characteristic is reduced, and the ankle takes an increased shock as the foot strikes the ground. This can lead to an increased risk of developing ankle pain or injury. Lupus Lupus is an inflammatory autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues, causing painful joints alongside a host of other symptoms. The other symptoms include fatigue, skin rashes, and fever. At-Home Treatments for Ankle Pain Without an Injury Resting the ankle can reduce some of the daily strain and may relieve some of the symptoms. You can apply ice to the ankle to relieve inflammation and pain, while elevating the it to reduce swelling. You can do ankle mobility exercises to improve the range of the ankle joint, while maintaining the strength of the muscles supporting the joint. Ankle mobility exercises include: Start by sitting with your feet facing forward and flat on the floor. Raise your forefoot off the floor and hold for 5 seconds. Rise onto your toes and hold for 5 seconds. You can do both legs at the same time or one at a time. Repeat 10 times per leg.Sitting with your legs outstretched in front of you, point your toes as far as possible without causing pain. Hold for 5 seconds and release. Repeat with both legs. You can make circular movements with your ankle or even trace letters in the air with the toes to further increase your ankle mobility. Heel raises can be used to strengthen the calf and foot muscles. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Go up onto your forefoot and toes while raising the heels off the ground. Once on your forefoot, lower down slowly onto your whole foot again. You can complete this exercise 10–15 times on both feet at the same time. Medication can be used to manage conditions that can contribute to the development of ankle pain without injury. Pain and inflammation can also be managed effectively using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in a safe manner. You can also make use of orthotics such as arch supports to provide a stable and comfortable surface for your feet. Orthotics have shock-absorbing qualities and can help reduce overpronation as seen with flat feet. Your feet will not get tired as quickly while being fully supported. When to Seek Professional Help for Sudden Ankle Pain It is advised to seek medical help should any adverse symptoms show up in the ankle that do not clear up within a day or two. In certain instances, assistance from a medical professional could be the safest way to go about managing this type of condition safely. Seek medical help if: Adverse pain arises in the ankle suddenly Adverse swelling and inflammation arises in the ankle You are unable to walk or bear weight on that ankle You have a stiff ankle or stiffness in multiple joints There is excessive swelling around the ankle
AnkleTypes of Ankle Sprains: A Complete GuideIt can be difficult to ascertain why your ankle hurts and whether it is a sprain or a fracture. A sprain is caused by a rapid stretch applied to a structure, usually a ligament, causing pain and inflammation to occur. A sprain is an overstretched or torn ligament due to an abnormal force experienced in a structure of the body. The most common area for sprains to develop is in the ankle complex due to its intricate nature and function in the body. An ankle sprain usually occurs due to a sudden outward roll of the ankle when landing onto the foot. This outward roll of the ankle can cause injury through rapid overstretching of the ligaments, which are meant to maintain alignment of the bones in the ankle. With repetitive overstretching of the ligaments in the ankle, the ligaments are lax and may not stabilize the bones of the ankles while walking or doing athletic activities, leading you to be prone to a more severe sprain. Ligament laxity from repeated strains can increase the chances of a serious ankle injury or fracture in the future. Causes of Ankle Sprains The most common cause of ankle sprains is an outward rolling injury of the ankle when stepping down or landing onto the ankle. You can experience a sensation of instability in your foot when supporting the weight of your body that can occur at unexpected times during activities. However, an ankle sprain usually occurs when your muscles are fatigued and do not allow for correct ankle placement on the ground when weight is applied, leading to an uncontrolled movement of the ankle. The risk of this increases when running or walking over uneven ground or when partaking in activities which require rapid change in direction or jumping movements. Obesity, pregnancy, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can all contribute to ligament laxity and being more prone to injury. Ankle sprains are associated with an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis in the joint. Ankle injuries are graded according to the severity of the injury, which denotes the course and length of treatment before returning to normal activity or sport. Grade 1 (Mild) A grade 1 ankle sprain is characterized by the ligament fibers on the outer side of the ankle being stretched slightly, causing injury. The symptoms include minor pain and swelling on the outer side of the ankle. You may have slight visible bruising around the injury site. Pain usually subsides quickly and function isn’t limited for too long. Initial symptoms of a grade 1 sprain can be treated effectively with the RICE method. Begin by resting the injured ankle and elevating the leg to reduce swelling. Ice and compression can further be applied to the injured ankle to reduce inflammation and pain. Grade 2 (Moderate) A grade 2 sprain involves a partial ligament tear within the ankle complex, causing prolonged pain and swelling in the area. This strain will prevent you from being able to take weight on the ankle and to walk without a limp. Bruising can also be noted around the outer side of the ankle, usually indicating a partial tear. Again, the RICE method can be followed initially to reduce inflammation and potential bruising. You can make use of medication to further manage the pain and inflammation you may be experiencing. A medical professional may advise that you immobilize the ankle using a brace or an orthotic boot to promote healing and provide support for the ankle. Grade 3 (Severe) A grade 3 tear indicates a full rupture of one or more ligaments within the ankle structure. Significant pain and swelling is noted around the ankle, along with notable bruising. Putting weight on the foot is extremely painful, and you may not be able to walk for a period of time. Upon examination by a medical professional, instability is seen in the ankle, and provocation of your symptoms is relatively easy. When to Seek Medical Advice Ruling out serious issues such as tendon rupture and bone fractures after sustaining an ankle injury will safely guide the healing process. You should seek medical advice if you have excessive bruising or swelling in the injured ankle. Another indication is that you are unable to put weight on the ankle without excessive ankle pain. A medical professional may ask for an X-ray to be done to determine if there is an ankle fracture present based on his/her clinical examination. Surgery may be warranted to manage an ankle fracture. Crutches to reduce weight off of the injured ankle are advised, usually in conjunction with a cast or boot to support the ankle. Thereafter, physical therapy is suggested to strengthen the muscles of the lower leg while providing a wider range of motion to the ankle. The physical therapist can also assist you with pain management and advance your therapy so you can return to sport safely. Exercise is advised to strengthen the muscles supporting the ankle complex after sustaining an ankle injury, especially if you've been in a cast or boot for a longer period of time.
AnkleAnkle Pain When Walking: Most Common CausesThe source of your ankle pain is often difficult to diagnose due to the complexity of the structures in the area. Ankle pain can arise for many reasons from any of the structures comprising the ankle joint, including the structures in the lower leg and foot. Ankle pain can develop even without injury to the joint. Determining the reason you are experiencing ankle pain is important to understand how to manage it and prevent the pain from reoccurring in the future. Injury-Related Causes of Ankle Pain When Walking Injury to the structures making up the ankle complex can lead to the development of pain while walking. Injury is usually due to high compressive or tensile forces applied to the area during activity and can lead to the development of acute ankle pain. Acute ankle pain can progress into chronic ankle pain if the causative factors are not managed adequately or sufficiently. A twisting or outward roll of the ankle is the most common form of ankle injury reported by people globally. The outward roll of the ankle stretches the ligaments of the outer edge of the joint complex suddenly and may cause damage to the ligament. Pain on the outer edge of the ankle is commonly reported. The tear created by the injury is graded in various stages according to the severity of the injury and symptoms. Non-Injury-Related Causes of Ankle Pain When Walking Osteoarthritis The cartilage lining the joints of the body becomes degraded or worn away leading to the development of pain, usually progressing as a person ages. Injury or surgery to a joint may increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis in the joint in the future. Rheumatoid arthritis This is an autoimmune condition in which the body breaks down the cartilage lining the joints of the body through an uncontrolled immune response. Inflammation and pain arise in the affected joint and in other joints in the body. General fatigue, muscle weakness, joint tenderness, and skin redness are all notable symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Achilles tendonitis Achilles tendonitis is a condition characterized by pain and tenderness around the area of the heel and the Achilles tendon, usually due to injury. Flat feet Flat feet are a condition where the arches of the feet do not develop and the majority of the foot makes contact with the floor. Without an arch, the shock applied to the foot while running or jumping is not absorbed sufficiently and increased load is applied to the ankle joint. This increased load can lead to the development of pain in the ankle and other areas of the body. Orthotics can be used to prevent pronation of the foot and ankle, thus limiting the potential ankle injuries from occurring. Preventing Ankle Pain When Walking The correct footwear and orthotics can aid in preventing pain arising in the ankle joint by reducing the shock load while walking or running. Orthotics can manage other conditions of the foot that could cause pain to arise, such as plantar fasciitis and bunions. Orthotics can also treat overpronated ankles or flat feet effectively. Resting the ankle from daily activity and strenuous exercise can help you in managing the symptoms that have arisen and will allow time for the inflammation to reduce. Applying ice to the area can also relieve inflammation and bruising around the area and may allow you to return to walking without pain faster. Depending on the grade of the injury, the doctor might suggest not putting weight on your ankle while the initial injury subsides and the structures repair. The doctor may also suggest a foam cast or boot to support the ankle during daily activities, allowing the structures to heal and repair themselves. Massaging the muscles of the lower leg and the sole of the foot should help relieve tension in any tissue that could be contributing to your pain. Medication to effectively manage conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can slow down the rate of progression of joint deformity and erosion in the joints. Exercise to strengthen the muscles of the foot, lower leg, and core of the body can help maintain the correct biomechanical alignment in the body. Through ensuring that the muscles are able to sufficiently cope with the physical requirements of the body, there is a reduced chance of pain or an injury developing. Maintaining a healthy weight can contribute greatly to the health and longevity of your ankles. You should consult with a medical professional if you are unable to walk two days after an ankle injury or if there is excessive swelling or bruising in the area. High grade impacts to the ankle with blunt objects and adverse symptoms should be assessed and managed by a medical professional.
AnkleExercises to Help Heal Your Sprained AnkleAn ankle sprain occurs when a ligament in the ankle is torn or stretched beyond its limits, causing pain, inflammation, and difficulty moving the ankle. It is important to note that there are various types of ankle sprains. You can also experience sudden ankle pain or ankle pain when walking due to overpronated ankles or arthritis in your ankles. It is important to seek medical advice as soon as you notice any kind of ankle pain to help shorten recovery time. You can also try wearing arch supports. Central to medical intervention for someone with an ankle sprain is exercise. It is recommended that you begin range-of-motion exercises as early as 72 hours post-injury. As pain and inflammation subside, exercises include stretching, strength training, and balance exercises. » Learn about the best shoes for an ankle sprain How to Know if Your Ankle Is Sprained Depending on the severity of the ankle sprain, you can expect to experience some or all of the following symptoms: Pain, especially when placing weight onto the affected footTenderness to touchSwellingBruisingLimited range of motionAnkle instabilityPopping sensation or sound at the time of injury An ankle fracture has similar symptoms, but there’s still a clear difference. If there was a popping sound when the pain started and visible malalignment, you’ve likely sustained an ankle fracture. Numbness or a tingling sensation and pain directly over the ankle bone (instead of the soft part of the ankle) point to an ankle fracture. » If you're still unsure, take a look at this ankle sprain symptom checker What Types of Exercises Can You Do for a Sprained Ankle? Depending on the stage of recovery, four types of exercises are recommended for the treatment of ankle sprains: range of motion (ROM), stretching, strengthening, and balance and control exercises. When performing these exercises, let your pain level guide you. If you experience more than mild pain, stop the exercise. Also, note that the timing and type of exercise may vary based on the stage of recovery. Best Ankle Exercises for Sprained Ankles Ankle ROM Exercises These exercises help you maintain your ankle's flexibility and range of motion. They can be performed as much as 5 times a day. Ankle alphabet While seated on a comfortable chair, extend your leg.Attempt to trace each of the letters of the alphabet in the air, leading with your big toe.If there’s no pain, repeat 2 to 3 times. Towel scrunches Start seated in a chair with a small towel placed on the floor in front of you. With your bare feet, grab the towel with your toes, scrunch it up, and hold for up to 5 seconds.Release the towel and repeat, performing 8–10 reps. Ankle Stretching Exercises As soon as you can, begin stretching your Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscles to your heel bone and plays a significant role in the ankle's range of motion. Calf stretch Sit on the floor with your leg stretched out.Wrap a towel or strap around the ball of your foot, holding on to each end. Pull the towel or strap towards your upper body to pull your toes towards you. You should feel a stretch in your calf.Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then release. Repeat up to 10 times. Standing calf stretch While standing, place your injured foot one step back, leaving your unaffected foot in front. You can hold on to a wall, countertop, or chair for support.With your heel flat on the floor, bend the knee of the unaffected leg slowly. Stop when you feel a moderate stretch in the calf of the affected limb.Hold the position for 30 seconds before releasing. Repeat 3 times. Heel raise Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. You can place your hands on something for support.Slowly lift your heels, rest on your toes, and then go back down.Repeat up to 10 times, aiming for a moderate stretch and no pain. Ankle Strengthening Exercises Once it becomes comfortable and pain-free to bear weight on your ankle, you can begin ankle strengthening exercises. While you can perform auto-resisted exercises using your body weight, using an elastic resistance band is best. Elastic band pull Begin by tying the resistance band around a heavy object close by.Sit on the floor and hook your toes and upper foot into the band. Try to pull your foot back and then return to a vertical position. Repeat up to 10 times. Ankle Balance and Control Exercises These exercises help train your balance and control. Basic balance While standing on the affected foot, lift the unaffected foot off the floor behind you and try to maintain balance. Consider holding on to a countertop or chair for support.Hold the position for 30 seconds and continue to build up from there.
AnkleRecovery Time for a Sprained AnkleThere are many possible reasons why your ankle hurts. Ankle pain can occur in the form of arthritis in the ankles, ankle pain when walking, or sudden ankle pain. An ankle sprain is one of the most common sprains among all ages. It occurs when one or more ligaments in the ankle stretch or tear, causing pain, inflammation, and difficulty with ankle motion. While an ankle sprain can heal by itself, the actual recovery time depends on the severity of the sprain and the quality of medical intervention after the injury. Here is how long you can expect the recovery to take for each of the grades or types of ankle sprains. » Learn about the best shoes for a sprained ankle Recovery Time for a Grade 1 Ankle Sprain With a grade 1 sprain, the ankle stretches minimally but does not tear. As a result, symptoms include mild ankle pain, swelling, and tenderness. There is usually no bruising, joint instability, or difficulty with bearing weight. Recovery time for a grade 1 ankle sprain is 1-3 weeks. Intervention includes resting, protecting the joint, and reducing swelling. To do this, avoid walking on your ankle. Limit weight bearing by using crutches until you are sure there is no broken bone—in which case you can put minimal weight on it. Also, you can use ice to keep the swelling minimal. You can also use an ankle brace to control swelling and keep your ankles stable while the ligaments heal. Compressing and elevating the foot can also help control swelling and immobilize the limb. Recovery Time for a Grade 2 Ankle Sprain With a grade 2 sprain, there is a partial tear in the ligaments. Symptoms include moderate pain, swelling, and tenderness. There may be some bruising, mild to moderate joint instability, and a loss of range of motion and function. Grade 2 ankle sprain will also cause pain in weight-bearing and walking. You can follow the PRICE method (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation), but you will need to allow more time for healing. The average recovery time for a grade 2 ankle sprain is 3–6 weeks. Recovery Time for Grade 3 Ankle Sprain A grade 3 ankle sprain is the most severe ankle sprain. There is a complete tear or rupture in the ligament at this level. Consequently, symptoms include severe pain, swelling, tenderness, and bruising. There is also a loss of function, range of motion, and ability to bear weight or walk. Aside from this, a grade 3 sprain increases the likelihood of permanent ankle instability. Depending on the intervention, recovery will be complete after 3–6 months. A surgical procedure may be needed to repair the damage. Also, your doctor may immobilize your ankle with a short leg cast for 2-3 weeks to allow healing. Factors That Can Affect Recovery Time of an Ankle Sprain The recovery time after an ankle sprain depends on the severity of the injury to the ligaments of the ankle. You’ll need a medical practitioner to help you identify the severity of your injury. Once the severity is determined, the biggest factor to guarantee ankle sprain recovery is acting immediately and treating your injury properly. Factors that Prolong Recovery Time Whatever slows down the healing process of the ankle ligaments will prolong recovery time. Using heat around the joint will prolong recovery time by increasing the rate of inflammation and delaying healing. Likewise, putting too much pressure on a sprained ankle could worsen the sprain and prolong recovery time. Pulling out of rehabilitation before the injury is completely healed may predispose you to long-lasting ankle instability (chronic ankle sprains). Ensure you get permission from your health care provider before placing weight on your ankle so you don’t postpone the recovery time from a sprained ankle. How to Shorten Recovery Time Whatever promotes the healing of the ankle ligaments will guarantee a faster recovery time from an ankle sprain. To shorten recovery time, incorporate the PRICE method. It is recommended that this method be used within the first 24-48 hours after injury. Apart from the PRICE method, a combination of motion-controlled movements, strength training for leg muscles, balance training, endurance, and agility exercises are all recommended for an ankle sprain. These methods aim to relieve pain, restore functional motion, rebuild balance, and increase confidence when applying pressure to the ankle. These will accelerate the recovery of an ankle sprain, prevent its recurrence, and curtail the long-term risk of chronic ankle instability. » Learn more about the benefits of arch support and how they can help
Ankle6 Ankle Strengthening Exercises to Prevent and Avoid Further InjuryStrength in the lower leg muscles is extremely important in maintaining biomechanical alignment of the foot and ankle complex during high-impact activities such as running or jumping. The muscles provide an active stabilization system for the ankle complex as weight is applied to the joint. Weakened muscles that fatigue quickly may be the reason why your ankle hurts. They can lead to ankle injuries, fractures, or ankle pain during daily activities. The ankle cannot cope with sudden stressors and is prone to developing pain in the long term. » Learn about the best shoes for a sprained ankle Benefits of Ankle Strengthening Exercises The main benefit of ankle strengthening exercises is that there will be less pressure placed on the ankle joint when weight is applied. You can improve your ankle joint by doing exercises that protect the joint and limit the potential for osteoarthritis and ankle arthritis from developing. Leg strengthening is associated with higher leg bone density and improved balance. Ankle Exercises and Stretches Standing Heel Raise Standing heel raises aim to strengthen the calf muscles, including the ankle stabilization muscles. These exercises also improve balance and the body’s ability to cope with the force of landing on the ground. More reps can help build muscle endurance. You can start with 10–15 repetitions and increase to 20–25 reps as you become more comfortable. Towel Stretch The towel stretch aims to lengthen the calf muscles and reduce the strain placed on the muscle attachments in the legs. All you need is a towel. Place it around the forefoot of one foot while your legs are outstretched in front of you. Pull back on the forefoot using the towel and hold for 15–30 seconds. You should feel the stretch at the back of the leg around the calf muscle. Ankle Alphabet Start by sitting with your legs out in front of you with a rolled towel under your leg, raising it slightly in the air. Draw out letters of the alphabet. This exercise helps maintain mobility in the ankle while maintaining muscle strength through that range of motion. Repeat on the other foot. Toe Curls Toe curls are specific for strengthening the muscles of the plantar or underside of your feet. Sitting with the feet shoulder-width apart, curl your toes into the ground or a soft surface. This encourages the shortening of the plantar muscles around the arch. Hold for 5 seconds and release. Be sure to repeat on the other foot. Single-Leg Standing Exercise This exercise can be done while standing on a soft, flat surface. Balance on one leg for as long as possible. Be sure to focus on distributing the weight on the entire foot. This exercise aims to create a single standing balance, which can benefit you while walking or running. This exercise can also reduce your chances of developing any type of ankle sprain, injury, or sudden ankle pain. Golf Ball Roll Using a golf ball or massage ball of your choice is a great way to massage the fascia and muscles on the underside of the foot. By lengthening and massaging these structures, you can relieve any pain and inflammation you may be experiencing. The massage draws blood to the area, promoting healing and speeding up recovery time. Risks of Exercising Injured or Weakened Ankles For the most part, exercises for strengthening your ankles are safe. It is important not to exercise and stretch your ankle if you are experiencing any adverse symptoms of inflammation or pain. Refrain from doing ankle exercises in the acute stage after an injury, such as in the case of a sprained ankle where bruising is observed. It is advised to apply ice to reduce inflammation and rest for a week or two before attempting to start ankle exercises. Exercises should limit the provocation of pain through slow and controlled movements. If pain arises, stop exercising and apply the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) method to your ankle. Refrain from doing overly challenging exercises too soon after an injury, as this may cause your symptoms to arise again or expose you to the risk of getting injured again. When to See a Medical Professional If you cannot bear weight on the ankle for a couple of days after your injury, consult with a medical professional, as this could indicate a more serious injury in the area. You should seek advice from a medical professional should your ankle feel unstable when weight is placed onto the leg during exercise or if the ankle pain does not subside. Other forms of medical management can be considered to prevent complications from developing in the ankle. » Learn about the benefits of arch support and how they can help.