Foot and Ankle Pain

What can cause foot pain?

There are many different causes of foot pain, but the following are some of the common conditions:

Plantar fasciitis

 

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation at the site where the fascia (a tough band of fibrous tissue) attaches under the heel bone. It’s the most common cause of discomfort around this area.

Plantar fasciitis frequently affects people with inflammatory arthritis but it can also occur in people without arthritis. Research has shown that plantar fasciitis is sometimes caused by the shortening of the Achilles tendon and that exercises to lengthen it may help.

 

 

Achilles tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis is an inflammation of
the Achilles tendon at the back of the ankle. It can occur as an over-use injury in people who take part in excessive exercise or exercise that they’re not used to, but it’s also quite common in people who have some types of arthritis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arthritis

The big toe is most commonly affected by osteoarthritis, but any of the joints in your feet can be affected. Many people notice changes in the arch structure of their feet as they get older, and mild arthritis in the arch is common. Osteoarthritis is less common in the ankle, but can occur if there has been an earlier injury or as a result of a long standing inflammatory.

 

 

 

 

What can be done to help?
If your foot pain has a particular cause, like arthritis, treating that condition may help. There are several ways you can help yourself if you have foot pain, and most symptoms can be eased, by finding footwear that has more room and is more comfortable. Using padded insoles that support the arch of the foot can also help.

Medication
Paracetamol and Ibuprofen are both available from the chemist and can be effective in relieving knee pain enough to allow you to exercise.

Physiotherapy and podiatry

If your foot pain is affecting your activity and is persisting, ask for a referral to a physiotherapist or podiatrist. They can help you manage pain and improve your strength and flexibility. They can also provide a variety of treatments, help you understand your problem and get you back to your normal activities.

 

Simple exercises

Achilles tendon and plantar fascia stretch

Loop a towel around the ball of your foot and pull your toes towards your body, keeping your knee straight. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times on each foot.

Plantar fascia stretch

Sit down and rest the arch of your foot on a round object (e.g. a tin of beans). Roll the arch in all directions for a few minutes. Repeat this exercise at least twice daily.

Towel pickup

Sit down with a towel on the floor in front of you. Keeping your heel on the ground, pick up the towel by scrunching it between your toes. Repeat 10–20 times. As you improve, add a small weight such as a tin of beans to the towel.

Sitting plantar fascia stretch

Sit down and cross one foot over your other knee. Grab the base of your toes and pull them back towards your body until you feel a comfortable stretch. Hold for 15–20 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

Wall/chair push

  • Facing a wall or chair, put both hands on the wall/chair at shoulder height and place one foot in front of the other. The front foot should be approximately 30 cm
(12 inches) from the wall/chair. With the front knee bent and the back knee straight, bend the front knee towards the wall/chair until the calf in your back leg feels tight. Relax and repeat 10 times.
  • Repeat a) but bring the back foot forward a little so that the back knee is slightly bent. Repeat the 10 times.

 

Summary

  •  The foot can be affected by many different conditions. Two causes of foot pain are plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis.
  • Finding comfortable footwear and using insoles if needed can help with symptoms.
  • You can take painkillers to ease pain. Taking them before exercise can help
you stay active without causing extra pain.
  • Try the exercises suggested here to help ease pain and prevent future injuries.
  • Your pain should ease within 2 weeks and you should recover over approximately a 4–6 week period.