Foot and ankle pain can really make you lose that “spring” in your step. Whether the cause is a sprain, a broken bone, an overuse injury or a type of arthritis, you need your foot and ankle fully functioning in order to move around and maintain your balance. The good news is that no matter what the source of your foot and ankle pain is, physical therapy can help you recover. If you’re living with any type of foot and ankle pain, contact our office to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist.
What is Foot and Ankle Pain?
Each foot and ankle is part of a system made up of 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Since our feet and ankles are designed to carry the rest of our bodies around, they’re meant to take a beating. But sometimes a bend in the wrong direction or worse — a sudden, traumatic break — can lead to a host of problems. Foot pain can occur in the heel, the arch, the ball or the toes, and ankle pain can be present on the inside or outside of the ankle (or both), depending on the type of injury. In addition to pain, you might experience a reduced range of motion, tenderness in the affected area, weakness, swelling and a feeling of instability in the ankle.
Causes of Foot and Ankle Pain
With so many bones, joints, muscles and tendons making up the foot and ankle, there is a very wide range of possible causes of foot and ankle pain:
- Ankle sprain or strain, ankle fracture or ankle impingement
- Plantar fasciitis
- Bone spurs
- Achilles tendinitis
- Pain in the ball of the foot; caused by metatarsalgia, Morton’s neuroma or sesamoiditis
- Neuropathy (nerve damage)
- Heel fracture or bruised heel
This is only a partial list of things that can cause foot and ankle pain! Even if you suffer an injury that requires surgery, such as an ankle fracture, physical therapy should be a part of the recovery process for you.
Physical Therapy for Foot and Ankle Pain
In spite of the wide range of possible causes for foot and ankle pain, as listed above, your physical therapist will be able to get you on the road to recovery. Your physical therapy regimen for foot and ankle pain will involve some or all of the following:
- Pain management: Physical therapy has many treatments available to reduce pain and swelling in your feet and ankles. This can include ice, heat, taping, massage, ultrasound treatments and specific exercises. Your therapist will also teach you ways to avoid or modify your daily activities to speed up the healing process.
- Restore range of motion: Your therapist will recommend specific treatments to get your ankle and foot functioning properly again. This may begin with “passive” treatments, in which the physical therapist gently moves your foot and ankle for you, and will progress to “active” treatments that you do yourself as you heal.
- Flexibility, strength and endurance: Your physical therapist will recommend specific stretches, strength training and endurance exercises to gradually restore your range of motion and strength to the injured area.
- Balance exercises: Foot and ankle pain can impact your balance, increasing your chances of falling down and further injuring yourself. Your physical therapist will work to help you restore your sense of balance to prevent this.
- At-home program: As your condition and ability improves, your physical therapist will recommend a customized system of at-home exercises for you to do on your own. These can range from stretching to strength training, depending on your condition.
- Return to normal: Whether your ultimate goal is to return to a specific trade or sporting activity following an injury to your foot or ankle, your physical therapist will help you to achieve that goal. This can range from simple exercise to work retraining exercises or even sport-specific drills.
Physical therapy is considered one of the fastest and safest ways to recover from foot and ankle pain. Contact us today at our Bedford, NH center, around the greater Manchester area, to schedule your first appointment with a licensed physical therapist!