Foot & Ankle Pain

Foot & Ankle Pain

Pain can occur in the foot and ankles for a number of reasons.

The foot and ankle is made up of a number of small bones interconnected by ligaments, muscles and fascia all working together to give the strength, stability and flexibility the foot and ankle needs to function properly. At Central Oxford Osteopathy we know how much foot and ankle pain can limit your mobility.

Common conditions which can give rise to this pain include:

  1. Acquired flat foot, which happens when the inner side of your foot or inner arch flattens. Your foot may roll over to the inner side (known as over-pronation). It can happen if the heels of your shoes have worn unevenly. Over-pronation can damage your ankle joint and achilles tendon (the tendon at the back of your ankle) and can also cause shin pain. Symptoms your might experience include, pain, swelling, change in your foot shape, knee pain or swelling.
  2. Plantar fasciitis, or pain and inflammation of the tough fibrous band of tissue supporting the arches of your foot. It runs under the small bones of your foot from the underside of the heel and sole towards your toes. Often, our patients who have plantar fasciitis describe it as a sharp pain, most often under their heel or the instep of their foot. It tends to be aggravated by standing for long periods of time in poor footwear. They report that it is worse when standing after being off their feet for a long time, and it can hurt more putting the foot on the floor first thing in the morning. Some of our patients also report that the sole of their foot can occasionally feel a little numb, tingly or swell slightly. In some cases of plantar fasciitis, a small spur of bone can grow where the plantar fascia attaches and pulls on the heel, causing a sharp pain.
  3. Achilles pain, in the tendon that joins your two calf muscles (called the gastrocnemius and the soleus) onto the bone at the back of your heel (called the calcaneus). Tendonitis or inflammation in this area can cause local pain and tightness.
  4. Sprained ankle, typically the result of a sudden twisting or “going over” on the ankle joint. Most commonly this strains the ligaments on the outside of the ankle joint. Symptoms our Oxford osteopaths typically see in such cases are swelling, bruising, pain and instability of the ankle joint.

Sometimes x-rays, scans and other tests are required to make a full diagnosis and particularly to rule out a fracture. If we feel our osteopath cannot completely heal or discover the cause of your pain, we will refer you to your GP or a specialist for additional investigation and to prescribe pain- or anti inflammatory-medication as required.

We’re here to help

In the first 24-48 hours after an acute injury to your foot or ankle, your osteopath will often advise rest, ice, elevation and compression. Depending on the diagnosis and your age and fitness we can also use a variety of gentle massage and manipulative techniques to increase the mobility of the joints and the flexibility of the muscles in the foot. Your osteopath will often look at muscles and joints in the lower limb, the knee, hip and lower back and may treat any joint restrictions and muscle tightness they find there. Often improving the movement in the joints of the lower will help the foot and ankle function better.

Your long term recovery is important to us. Once we have treated your immediate pain at the clinic, we will help you maintain your recovery by recommending gentle balancing or loosening exercises and stretches that you can do at home. We may offer advice on strapping and brace supports, footwear and any lifestyle factors that might be hindering healing. We may also refer you to a podiatrist for their opinion and for specialist foot supports

Acknowledgement: with thanks to Institute of Osteopathy for data and sources.



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