“A big thank you to the staff and Vin for helping me get on my “foot” again! After breaking my right foot in December, it was so painful. By doing my exercises and building up my strength, I can climb the stairs and drive my car without pain. Having full mobility was our goal. Vin and friends helped me get there. Thanks for all you do.” -Gwen P.
The ankle is a hinged joint formed by the meeting of three bones- the tibia, the fibula and the talus. The foot and ankle are complex structures which provide stability and take a huge amount of stress with every step, stride, or jump that you take. Following injuries or with age, ligaments and other structures in the foot can change, resulting in improper or aggravated forces on the foot and ankle. With ill-fitted shoes and residual effects from prior injuries, pain can occur from poor stability, lack of mobility or lack of strength in the stabilizing muscles.
What Causes Ankle Pain?
Ankle pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, such as sprains, strains, tendinitis, and arthritis.
Ankle Sprain / Strain
Ankle sprains and strains are one of the most common musculoskeletal injuries, especially in sports. The most common type of sprain is a lateral ankle sprain. However, sprains can occur on both sides of the ankle joint. Typically, a sudden stretching or sudden twisting causes an ankle sprain or strain. There may be pain, swelling, bruising, or difficulty weight bearing. There are different levels of sprain or strain from mild to severe. Initial treatment for an ankle sprain or strain generally includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the ankle. 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. Based on the outcome of our tests, an x-ray may be necessary to rule out a fracture. 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 once again participate in the activities you love to do.
Tendinitis is a swelling of the tendon. In the ankle, it can involve the peroneal tendon, the posterior tibial tendon or the Achilles tendon. Tendinitis can result from an overuse injury, running or diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. All kinds of tendinitis typically cause inflammation, pain and tenderness. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory meds, immobilizing the area and applying ice are the first line of treatment for tendinitis. Physical therapy is also effective in the treatment of tendinitis. If the tendinitis is severe, casting may be needed.
Foot pain can be caused by three major types of arthritis-osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and posttraumatic arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition where the cartilage gradually begins to wear away. Pain and stiffness worsen over time, it resulting in a painful rubbing of two. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease. It can affect the ankle and foot joints. The body’s immune cells attack the synovium covering the foot’s joints. Pain and joint deformity are common with rheumatoid arthritis.
After an injury, posttraumatic arthritis can develop in the ankle or foot. Previous fractures and dislocations are the most common conditions that can lead to posttraumatic arthritis. Like osteoarthritis, the joints begin to wear away. It may take many years for this to occur after the injury.
Physical Therapy for Foot Pain and Ankle Pain
Physical therapists utilize a combination of therapy techniques to relieve foot pain and ankle pain. Soft tissue and joint mobilizations are done to restore range of motion and proper joint mechanics. Manual therapy may be used to improve mobility of the ankle and foot along with reducing pain. Therapeutic exercises are targeted to improve the strength and stability of the ankle and foot. Balance training may also be implemented to address ankle proprioception and reduce the risk of future injury.
Some passive modalities that physical therapists use to treat injuries to the foot and ankle include Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM), cupping, electrical stimulation, ice and heat therapy, and massage. These treatment methods increase blood flow and circulation to enhance healing, reduce inflammation, reduce pain, and improve mobility. When you first visit with your physical therapist, a full evaluation is done, goals are discussed, and an individualized treatment plan is designed to target your specific needs.
Are you suffering from foot pain or ankle pain? Don’t delay any longer. Contact us at Bethpage & Ronkonkoma, NY centers and comprehensive evaluation. Our physical therapists have helped many other patients who suffer from ankle and foot pain and can help you too. The path to your recovery is just a phone call away.