Foot and Ankle Pain

What Causes Foot and Ankle Pain

The foot and ankle consist of many small bones and joints working together to allow for walking, jumping, and all sorts of athletic movements.  As a result, ankle and foot pain can greatly limit these activities.  Common foot and ankle injuries treated in physical therapy include ankle sprain, ankle tendinitis, plantar fasciitis (pain in the bottom of the foot), and metatarsalgia (pain along the top of the foot).  Patients may also be referred to physical therapy if they have undergone surgery to address broken bones or a calf tendon tear and need to return to normal weight-bearing activity.  Physical therapy can be effective in treating these conditions, literally getting you back on your feet!

Symptoms of Foot and Ankle Pain

  • Pain or stiffness along the ankle, bottom of the foot, top of the foot, and/or toes
  • Calf tightness
  • Difficulty walking or bearing weight
  • Weakness in the calf, ankle, and/or foot
  • Unsteadiness or poor balance on the affected leg
  • Feeling of instability on the affected leg
  • Bone spurs
  • Swelling

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Common Treatments of Foot and Ankle Pain

  • Balance exercises
  • Dry needling
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Walking training/education for use of canes, crutches, etc.
  • Soft tissue mobilization/Joint mobilization
  • Heat/Cold
  • Orthotic prescription
  • Sports injury rehab
  • Therapeutic exercise

Treatment of foot and ankle pain will depend on the specific factors that contribute to the pain and disability.  Often, stiffness within the calf or ankle contributes to foot and ankle pain, so stretching exercises may be prescribed to improve flexibility.  Joint and soft tissue mobilizations may also be used to improve movement of the foot and ankle if stiffness is noticed.  Ankle instability is a typical complaint after an ankle sprain, so strengthening and balance exercises are usually prescribed once pain is appropriately managed to help improve control of the ankle joint.