Our orthopedic and trauma surgeons and a multidisciplinary team comprising occupational therapists, nurses, physiotherapists, and orthotics practitioners are renowned for creating exceptional orthopedic care outcomes.
Let us understand what causes one of the most common orthopedic problems: foot and ankle injuries, what causes them, and how they can be treated.
Foot & Ankle Injuries
The foot and ankle comprise bones, ligaments and tendons, muscles, and joints that function together to provide balance and movement. Any of them can experience injuries such as sprains, tears, or a break.
Let’s understand the role of these anatomical parts in the foot and ankle area:
- Tendons are bands of tissue connecting the foot and ankle muscles to bones.
- Ligaments are bands of tissue connecting the bones in your foot.
- Joints in the foot and ankle are where the bones meet. The joints are cushioned with cartilage, so they don’t rub against each other when they move. The joints are enclosed in a fibrous covering with a thin membrane that secretes fluid to lubricate joints.
- Bones form the foot’s skeleton.
Injuries to the foot and ankle include the following: a fall, jumping, twisting the foot, pulling a muscle, an object hitting the foot or ankle or the foot stepping on a sharp object, a sports-related injury, sudden impact such as an accident, or damage during an activity that places undue strain on the foot or ankle.
Common Foot & Ankle Injuries
- Ligament tears or ruptures, sudden or over time.
- Sprain: A sprain happens to ligaments when they are over-stretched. A ligament sprain can be a microscopic tear to a complete rupture.
- Strain: Pulled muscles or strained happen when muscles and tendons are pulled or stretched too far.
- Fractures of bones.
- Bone dislocation.
Tendon Injuries in Foot & Ankle
- Achilles tendon tear: The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It helps you walk, run, climb stairs, and stand on your toes.
- Achilles tendonitis: Inflammation of the Achilles tendon.
- Posterior Tibial Tendonitis: When the posterior tibial tendon (connecting the inner portion of the ankle to the middle part of the foot) inflames, tears, or ruptures, it causes pain and swelling. Left undiagnosed, it can lead to a flat foot and fallen arches, pushing the heel bone outwards.
- Peroneal tendonitis: Inflammation or tear in the two peroneal tendons in the outer part of the ankle
- Tendinopathy: It involves tendon tears and tendinitis.
- Cast or Splint.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Physical therapy.
- Customized brace.
- Corticosteroid injections.
- Custom orthotics (shoe inserts).
Ligament Injuries in Foot & Ankle
The ligaments in the foot can tear or sprain due to over-stretching, sports, twisting, falls, and sudden impact.
There are three degrees of ligament injury: Grade 1 is a microscopic tear in the ligament fibers, Grade 2 is a partially torn ligament, and Grade 3, is a completely torn ligament.
Plantar fasciitis is a common injury of the plantar fascia, a dense fibrous band that runs from the heel to the toes, connecting bones and creating the arch in your foot. Overstress on the band leads to inflammation, causing pain in the heel and making it difficult to walk.
After a thorough diagnosis and motion and stability tests, and the degree of injury, any of the following approaches may be used:
- OTC medications to control pain and inflammation.
- Foot in a walking cast.
- Targeted massage.
- Supportive shoes.
Foot & Ankle Fractures
Any of the 26 bones in the foot and ankle can get fractured due to sports, falls, or sudden impact. The fracture can be a hairline or a complete break; the former heals with time, but major fractures require surgical intervention.
- The RICE approach for mild fractures: Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. These four practices help heal the fracture faster.
- Anti-inflammatory medicines.
- Physical therapy.
- Splints, casts, or braces.
- Surgery for complex fractures.
Fracture, Sprain or Strain: How to Tell the Difference?
- A sprain is a ligament-related problem; it is a soft tissue injury that can be mild or severe.
- Strain is a muscle-related injury when they are overworked.
- A fracture is the breaking or cracking of the bone.
Sprains and strains lead to swelling, pain, and difficulty moving the part; the degree of pain depends on the extent of the ligament or muscle damage.
Fractures cause intense pain, a sense of deformity of the area, numbness, and bruising and can injure muscles or ligaments attached to the bone. The slightest pressure on the area leads to severe pain, and rest does not improve pain due to fracture.
Seek medical help if you are experiencing severe pain and are unsure if it is a sprain, strain, or fracture of the foot or ankle.