Countless Americans every year visit the doctor due to issues with their feet and ankles. Containing 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 tendons, our feet are an incredible marvel of biomechanics. These parts work in conjunction for people to run, walk, jump, pivot, support, and more to allow our bodies to do what they do. With all of these parts combined with how much time we spend on our feet, it is just a matter of time before any of us regardless of age or gender encounter a problem. Our team at Red Mountain Footcare wanted to outline some of the most common foot and ankle injuries we encounter, what causes them, and some of the different treatment options available.
Most Common Causes
Foot and ankle injuries are incredibly prevalent and common amongst all groups of people. We wanted to discuss some of the most common causes of injuries to help you be cognizant of where you are likely to be injured and share what you might do to prevent them from occurring.
Between all of the sudden movements, impacts, turns, and pivots it is no surprise to anyone how likely one is to be injured playing a sport. In order to proactively protect yourself, wear sports-specific, well-fitting shoes that provide adequate support, cushioning, and stability for your chosen activity. Replace them when they show signs of wear. Allow sufficient time for rest and recovery between training sessions to prevent overuse injuries. Listen to your body and address any signs of fatigue or discomfort promptly.
Accidents and Falls
Accidents and falls are common causes of foot injuries, and their prevalence can vary depending on various factors, including age, activity level, and environmental conditions. While specific statistics may vary, it’s clear that these incidents contribute significantly to foot injuries.
Inadequate footwear can contribute to ankle and foot injuries in several ways, including the following: insufficient support, lack of stability, and improper fit. To mitigate the potential dangers, be sure to choose the right shoes for your activity whether those are running shoes designed for running, hiking boots for hiking, or replacing shoes when they have become worn down.
Risk Factors of Foot and Ankle Injuries
As individuals age, they often experience changes in muscle strength, joint flexibility, and bone density, making their feet and ankles more susceptible to injury. Additionally, older adults may have reduced balance and coordination, increasing their risk of falls and related injuries, such as fractures or sprains.
Activity levels play a critical role in foot and ankle injuries. Engaging in high-impact sports, activities that involve frequent changes in direction, or repetitive motions can increase the risk of injuries like sprains, strains, and stress fractures. In contrast, individuals with sedentary lifestyles may also be at risk, as a lack of physical activity can lead to weakened muscles and reduced flexibility, making them more susceptible to conditions like plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis.
It occurs when repetitive stress or strain is placed on the feet and ankles without sufficient rest or recovery time. Overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, tendinitis, or plantar fasciitis, often result from activities like running long distances without proper conditioning or taking adequate breaks, leading to microtrauma and inflammation in the affected areas.
Due to the excess body weight placing additional stress on these structures, the added pressure can lead to conditions such as plantar fasciitis, where the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot becomes inflamed and painful. Obesity can also increase the risk of ankle instability and falls, as the excess weight can affect balance and mobility, making individuals more susceptible to sprains and fractures.
5 of the Most Common Foot and Ankle Injuries
Achilles tendonitis is a condition characterized by inflammation and irritation of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. Common symptoms include pain and stiffness in the back of the heel, especially during physical activity, and swelling in the affected area. Treatment options often include rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), along with physical therapy exercises to strengthen the tendon and reduce strain. In severe cases, a doctor may recommend immobilization with a boot or splint, and in rare instances, surgical intervention may be necessary.
An ankle sprain occurs when the ligaments that support the ankle joint are stretched or torn, often as a result of sudden twisting or rolling of the ankle. An ankle sprain is often characterized by pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty bearing weight on the affected ankle. Treatment options typically involve rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) to reduce swelling and pain. Mild to moderate sprains may heal with conservative measures, while severe sprains may require immobilization with a brace or cast and physical therapy to regain strength and stability.
Stress Fracture of Foot
A stress fracture is a tiny crack in a bone, typically caused by repetitive stress or overuse, often affecting the weight-bearing bones of the foot. Stress fractures usually include localized pain, tenderness, and swelling at the site of the fracture, which worsens with weight-bearing activity. Treatment options for stress fractures involve rest and avoiding activities that exacerbate the injury. Immobilization with a cast or walking boot may be necessary in severe cases, and a gradual return to weight-bearing activities is advised as the bone heals.
Plantar fasciitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, connecting the heel bone to the toes. Plantar fasciitis usually includes sharp, stabbing heel pain, especially in the morning or after periods of rest, and discomfort that typically improves with movement but worsens with prolonged standing or walking. Treatment often includes rest, stretching exercises, orthotic inserts, and over-the-counter pain medications. In more severe cases, physical therapy, custom orthotics, night splints, or corticosteroid injections may be recommended to alleviate pain and inflammation.
Foot and Ankle Injury Treatment in Mesa, AZ
No matter what type of foot or ankle injury you might be dealing with, our team at Red Mountain Footcare located in Mesa has you covered in treating your injury. Our team leans on our wealth of experience in treating and caring for all sorts of injuries while offering exceptional levels of customized and tailored care for your unique injury. Set up an appointment or give us a call to see how our team can help you feel like yourself again.