Foot and ankle pain isn't just an inconvenience. If you're frequently experiencing pain in the parts of your body you use to walk, stand, and run, it can quickly become debilitating. Both ankle pain and foot pain can have serious consequences when it comes to the quality of your everyday life.
The good news is, there are plenty of treatments available for ankle and foot problems, no matter the cause. The first step, however, is determining which foot or ankle condition is the underlying source of your symptoms.
At , Dr. Eddie Davis and his team have experience diagnosing and treating a wide range of foot and ankle conditions. Using the latest techniques in the field of podiatry, we can help you find relief from your symptoms and get back to enjoying your life.
Here are the top 10 most common causes of foot and ankle pain, along with information on available treatments:
1. Sprained Ankle
A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments that support the joint are stretched or torn. This can happen as a result of an injury, such as a fall or sudden twist. Symptoms of a sprained ankle include moderate pain, swelling, and bruising.
In most cases, an ankle sprain will heal on its own with at-home care, such as rest, ice, and elevation. However, more severe cases may require physical therapy or even surgery.
2. Achilles Tendonitis
One of the most common ankle injuries, Achilles tendinitis is an inflammation of the , which connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. This condition is often caused by overuse and is common in athletes. Symptoms of Achilles tendonitis include swelling, moderate to intense pain and stiffness in the heel and lower leg, as well as difficulty flexing the foot.
3. Ankle Fractures
Ankle fractures are also a common type of ankle injury, particularly among athletes. A fracture is a break in the bone and can range from a small crack to a complete break. Symptoms of a broken ankle include severe pain, ankle swelling, bruising, and difficulty moving the affected foot.
If you're not sure whether or not you have a fracture, it's important to seek medical attention right away. An X-ray will be able to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment for a broken ankle may require surgery, as well as a period of immobilization in a cast or splint.
4. Plantar Fasciitis
is a condition that results in heel pain and stiffness. It's caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the toes. Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include sharp or burning pain in the heel, which is typically worse in the morning or after extended periods of sitting or standing.
5. Ankle Arthritis
Arthritis is a common cause of ankle pain, especially in older adults. Arthritis is a degenerative joint condition that occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joints breaks down. This can lead to joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation. Symptoms of arthritis typically worsen over time.
There are several different types of arthritis that can affect the ankle, including:
- Osteoarthritis: This is the most common type of arthritis and occurs when the cartilage breaks down due to wear and tear.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: This is a form of arthritis that occurs when the body's immune system attacks the joints.
- Psoriatic arthritis: This is a form of arthritis that occurs in people who have a skin condition called psoriasis.
- Reactive arthritis: This is a form of arthritis that occurs in response to an infection.
- Gout: This is a form of arthritis that occurs when there is too much uric acid in the body. This can lead to the formation of crystals in the joints, which can cause pain and inflammation.
There is no cure for arthritis, but there are treatments that can help relieve symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
are a common foot deformity that can cause moderate pain and discomfort. A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe. This bump can cause the toe to point inward, which can crowd the other toes and create painful pressure points. Bunions can also make it difficult to find shoes that fit properly.
If bunions are causing pain or interfering with your ability to walk or stand, it's time to seek treatment from a podiatrist.
7. Foot Deformities
There are several different types of foot deformities that can cause pain and discomfort. Some common foot deformities include:
- Flat feet: Flat feet is a condition in which the arch of the foot collapses, resulting in a flat foot. This can cause pain and difficulty walking.
- High arches: High arches is a condition in which the arch of the foot is higher than normal. This can cause pain and difficulty walking.
- Claw toes: Claw toes is a condition in which the toe bends downward at the middle joint, resembling a claw. This can cause pain and difficulty walking.
- Hammertoes: Hammertoes is a condition in which the toe bends downward at the middle joint, resembling a hammer. This can cause pain and difficulty walking.
If you have a foot deformity that is causing pain or interfering with your ability to walk or stand, treatment options such as orthotics with arch supports are available.
8. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the foot. It's caused by compression of the tibial nerve, which runs through a narrow passageway in the ankle called the tarsal tunnel. Symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome include burning or shooting pain in the foot, which is typically worse at night.
9. Ankle Instability
Ankle instability is a condition in which the ankle joint is unstable and gives way. This can cause pain, swelling, and difficulty walking. Ankle instability is often caused by an injury to the ligaments that support the ankle joint.
10. Not Wearing Proper Footwear
Not wearing proper footwear is one of the most common causes of foot pain. Wearing shoes that don't fit properly can cause bunions, plantar fasciitis, and other foot problems we've already addressed here. Even if they do fit properly, shoes like high heels and flip-flops can still cause foot pain. It's important to choose shoes that provide support and cushioning for the feet.
If you're experiencing foot pain, it's important to see a podiatrist for an evaluation. A podiatrist can identify the underlying cause of your pain and develop a treatment plan to relieve your symptoms that may involve soft-sole shoes or inserts with soft insoles.
Foot and Ankle Pain Treatment Options
While every patient's treatment depends on the exact cause of their pain, there are some general treatments that are effective for many conditions. Some of the first steps you and your podiatrist may take to relieve pain include:
- Rest: Rest is often the best medicine to relieve pain in the feet and ankles. This means avoiding activities that put stress on the feet, such as running or standing for long periods of time.
- Ice: Ice can help reduce swelling and pain. Apply an ice pack to the affected area for 15 minutes several times a day.
- Compression: Compression can help reduce swelling. Use an elastic bandage or compression sock to apply gentle pressure to the affected area.
- Elevation: Elevation can help reduce swelling by keeping the foot above heart level.
Your podiatrist may also recommend over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medication to relieve pain and inflammation. If these conservative treatments don't provide relief, your podiatrist may recommend measures such as:
- Bracing or Splinting: A brace, splint, or walking boot can help stabilize the foot and ankle, reducing pain.
- Orthotic Inserts: Orthotic inserts are devices that fit into shoes and provide support for the foot. Custom-made orthotics are often used to treat conditions such as plantar fasciitis and bunions.
- Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can help stretch and strengthen the muscles and ligaments around the foot and ankle, reducing pain.
- Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy: This non-invasive treatment uses sound waves to stimulate healing and reduce pain, particularly for patients with plantar fasciitis.
- Surgery: If conservative treatments don't provide relief, foot and ankle surgeons may recommend a procedure to correct the underlying condition causing pain.
Visit the Top San Antonio Podiatrist Near You
If you're experiencing foot or ankle pain, Dr. Davis and the team at can help. We offer comprehensive care for all types of foot and ankle conditions, from bunions to Achilles tendonitis. We'll work with you to develop a treatment plan that relieves your pain and gets you back on your feet.