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Foot and Ankle Pain

Smita Pandit Apr 20, 2019
More often than not, pain in the foot and ankle is caused due to ankle sprains. Here, we provide some information on the contributing factors and ways to alleviate pain.
Pain in the foot and the ankle could be caused due to a variety of reasons. It could be attributed to foot injuries or could be a symptom of medical conditions such as arthritis, ankle tendinitis, or plantar fasciitis. The formation of corns, calluses, or bone spurs in the feet could also lead to foot pain.

Causes

If you notice any swelling around your ankles, and experience pain while walking and running, it would be best to seek medical help for ascertaining the cause of pain. The following medical conditions are often the contributing factors for the aforementioned symptoms.

Sprain

The most common injury that is likely to cause pain and swelling in the foot and ankle is an ankle sprain. Ankle sprain is caused due to tearing of ligaments, that are bands of tissue that connect the bones to each other and provide support to the ankle joint.
These could get overstretched or torn due to the sudden rolling or twisting movements while running or even walking on uneven surfaces. The symptoms of an ankle sprain include pain, tenderness in the sprained ankle, stiffness in the ankle joint, bruising, and swelling. The severity of the symptoms depends on the degree of sprain.
The symptoms will be more severe in a third degree sprain which is associated with complete rupture of the ligaments in the ankle, unlike the first and second degree sprain where the ligament gets overstretched or partially torn.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a medical condition associated with the inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is a thick band of connective tissue that covers the bones located at the bottom of our feet. This thick band of tissue runs from the bottom of the heel bone to the ball of the foot. Inflammation of plantar fascia is most likely to cause heel pain.
Those who often perform physical activities that exert excessive pressure on the heel bone and the tissues are more likely to develop this condition. People affected by obesity, structural foot abnormalities, or a defective gait are also at an increased risk.
Wearing an ill-fitting footwear could also give rise to an inflamed plantar fascia, which in turn would give rise to pain.

Calcaneal Fractures

The calcaneus bone refers to the quadrangular heel bone located at the rear part of the foot. It is the largest of the tarsal bones and supports our entire body weight while walking. It comprises a tough outer part that encloses a soft spongy bone.
A calcaneal fracture is one of the common tarsal bone fractures. It could occur due to a fall from a great height or repeated stress. Since this heel bone supports the lateral column of the foot and carries our entire body weight when we walk, damage to the calcaneus gives rise to pain while walking.

Arthritis

Medical conditions such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, septic arthritis, and tendonitis could also cause pain. Gout is caused when large amounts of uric acid gets accumulated in the joints. If uric acid gets accumulated in the ankle joint, it gives rise to pain and swelling in the ankle region.
Those affected by inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and Achilles tendonitis are also likely to experience pain and swelling in the ankles. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that is associated with the wear and tear of the cartilage, which is a connective tissue that is found at the end of the bones in the joints.
It acts like a cushion and protects the bones. If the joints in the feet get affected by osteoarthritis, it gives rise to pain, stiffness, swelling in or around the joint, and restricted range of motion.

Treatment

Since pain in the feet could be caused due to a variety of reasons, the treatment will depend on the underlying cause.
Many a time, pain could be experienced by people who perform high-impact exercises such as running, jogging and other sports. Those who have been experiencing pain while running must make sure that they wear a good quality footwear.
They must discontinue the strenuous exercises or activities that put pressure on their feet and get themselves medically examined. The pain could be caused due to a twist in the ankle or an overuse injury. Doctors generally conduct an X-ray to determine the type of injury.
Those affected by a sprain will have to wear a cast in order to compress or hold the ligament in place while it heals. One has to take ample rest and avoid putting pressure on the injured ankle so as to speed up the recovery.
Painkillers or steroids might be prescribed for the treatment of a sprained ankle. The patient could also benefit from physical therapy. The treatment could involve use of orthotic devices, drug therapy, and physical therapy. Since wearing ill-fitting footwear is one of the common causes of pain, one should wear shoes that are comfortable and fit perfectly.
Since ankle swelling and pain could be caused due to serious medical conditions, people affected by the aforementioned symptoms must consult a doctor immediately.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.