The foot and ankle consist of numerous bones, the joints between them, the ligaments that keep them stable, and the muscles that generate strength and motion. Your foot and ankle take a lot of stress from standing, walking, running, or going up and down stairs. Foot or ankle problems can be caused by overuse, traumatic injury, or naturally occurring changes in your body.
Your foot is the base of support for your entire body. Muscles in the foot help the bones provide structure and support. If your foot’s alignment is off because of weakness or structural issues, it can cause problems up your entire leg.
Suffering from foot and ankle pain? Contact us to learn about treatment options.
How Your Foot and Ankle Works
The foot consists of the forefoot, midfoot, and hindfoot.
The forefoot is made up of your toes and five metatarsals, each made up of two long bones.
The midfoot consists of five small bones called the navicular, cuboid, and first, second, and third cuneiform bones.
The hind foot is made up of the heel bone (calcaneus) and the talus bone, which sits on top of the heel bone. The talus meets the two lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) to create the ankle joint.
Ligaments which go between the bones in the foot and help provide stability. These ligaments can be injured, causing pain and instability.
Three main ligaments on the outside of the ankle and one broad band of ligaments on the inside of the ankle connect the two leg bones to the foot. There’s also a ligament in the ankle which connects the shinbone (tibia) to the outside lower leg bone (fibula). When this ligament is injured, it’s referred to as a high ankle sprain.
Many muscles within the foot help flex and extend the toes. Some muscles have tendons that travel up the ankle and attach on the tibia or fibula; others remain entirely in the foot.
Muscles in the ankle let the ankle move in, out, up, and down. The Achilles tendon attaches to the heel and turns into the calf muscles ending behind the knee.
Evaluating Foot and Ankle Pain
We evaluate foot and ankle pain by having you tell us when and how it started, how it feels, and treatments you’ve tried. We ask about other medical conditions that may contribute to your pain and do a physical exam of your foot and ankle structures. Then we check your foot or ankle’s range of motion and strength, and do tests to uncover specific problems.
Sometimes we order X-rays or MRIs. X-rays can show fractures, spurs, and changes from arthritis, while MRIs show us more bone detail as well as soft-tissue damage like ligament or muscle tears.
Whatever’s causing your foot and ankle pain, we’re dedicated to helping you find the best treatment. Request an appointment today.
Causes of Foot Pain
- Less common causes – infection, tumors, or nerve problems
Treating Ankle and Foot Pain
Ankle and foot pain treatment is specific to the diagnosis and severity of your symptoms.
Medications can help with some conditions. Non-steroidal medications like ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help control inflammation and pain. A short burst of a steroid medication or a cortisone injection may help with severe inflammation.
Physical therapy focuses on getting your foot and ankle muscles and joints to work together as you stand and walk, addressing muscle imbalances through corrective exercises. Even if you’re very strong and active, muscle imbalances can cause pain. Physical therapy can be done on an outpatient basis or via telehealth. You’ll also be given exercises to continue on your own.