The most common ankle injury is the sprain. This results from excessive strain on the soft tissue structures surrounding the ankle joint. Also fairly common is injury to the muscle tendons that cross the joint known as tendonitis.
The bones of the ankle can also be broken or fractured.
Do not neglect an ankle injury because you believe it to be minor. Improperly treated sprains, for example, can result in long-term ankle instability and arthritis.
Just because you can move the ankle or walk on it does not mean it is not broken.
Do not immediately soak an injury in warm water. This leads to swelling and pressure on the nerves resulting in pain.
The better initial treatment is an ice pack. This reduces swelling and has a numbing effect.
After 72 hours, warm compresses or soaks may be used.
It is not enough to apply an elastic bandage on a severely sprained ankle because there could be torn or severely overstretched ligaments. Such injuries should be x-rayed, professionally immobilized, casted, have physical therapy or even surgery.
- Reduce activities or get of your feet
- Elevate foot higher than your waist to reduce swelling
- Use cold compresses or ice bag in 20 minutes on/20 minutes off cycles
- Wear the correct shoes for the event or sport
- Do not wear sport shoes beyond their recommended life
- Wear hiking boots in rough terrain
- Beware of slippery floors and clean up spills immediately
Athlete’s foot (Tinea pedis) is caused by a skin fungus that affects the feet since they are enclosed in shoes which creates a warm, dark, humid environment promoting fungal growth.
Warm, dark areas near swimming pools, showers and locker rooms are breeding areas. Therefore, the condition is common in athletes using such areas, hence the name “athlete’s foot.”
Dry, scaly skin, itching, inflammation and blisters leading to cracking or breaks in the skin causing pain and swelling. The itching and burning increase as the infection spreads.
The condition may spread to the toenails or even other parts of the body due to scratching.
Not all conditions appearing like athlete’s foot are caused by fungus e.g. allergic reactions, eczema and psoriasis. Have your doctor or podiatrist make a diagnosis.
Fungal spores can persist on inanimate objects such as socks, shoes, bed-sheets and the floor for a long time.
Practice good foot hygiene: washing and drying feet thoroughly, especially between the toes daily.
Alternate shoes and change socks/stockings regularly.
Reduce perspiration by using a foot powder or antiperspirant
Avoid walking barefooted
Wear shoes of natural materials e.g. leather and canvas
Wear socks of cool absorbing fibres e.g. cotton blends and acrylics
TREATMENT includes antifungal powders, solutions, creams and tablets.
ACHILLES (A-KEE-LESE) TENDONITIS
The Achilles tendon is a band of tissue that runs down the back of the lower leg and connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. It is also called the heel cord and assists in walking by helping to raise the heel off the ground. Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon. It is usually brief but overtime, the condition can progress to a degeneration of the tendon (Achilles tendonosis).
Pain – aching, stiffness, soreness, or tenderness – within the tendon
Often the pain occurs upon rising in the morning or after periods of rest, then improves with activity, but later worsens again.
Tenderness or intense pain when the sides of the tendon are squeezed
Usually a sudden increase of repetitive activity involving the tendon
Due to ongoing stress, the body is unable to repair the injured tissue resulting in continued pain.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Athletes, individuals whose work puts stress on their ankles and feet such as labourers
“Weekend warriors” – those who participate in athletics only on weekends or infrequently
Women who abruptly stop wearing high heeled shoes and begin to wear very flat shoes or go barefooted
People with excessive pronation (flattening of the arch) especially if they wear shoes without adequate stability
Examination by doctor or podiatrist
Diagnostic tools e.g. x-rays, ultrasound, MRI
This is based on the length of time symptoms have been present and the extent of the injury to the tendon Immobilization by a brace, cast or removable walking boot Ice to reduce swelling
Oral medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories Corticosteroid injections Support of the foot and ankle by orthotics and or heel lifts Physical therapy may include strengthening exercises, soft tissue massage/ mobilization, walking and running re-education, stretching, electrical stimulation and ultrasound therapy. Surgery may be necessary to repair the tendon if conservative treatments fail.
PREVENTION of recurrence focuses on strengthening and stretching the calf muscles through daily exercises. Also important is wearing proper shoes for the foot type and activity and the use of correctly prescribed orthotics or arch supports.
A bunion involves an enlargement of bone or tissue around the joint at the base of the big toe. The toe may turn in towards the second toe. The tissues around the joint may become swollen and inflamed.
SYMPTOMS include irritated skin around the bunion, joint redness, swelling and pain, and possibly a shift of the big toe toward the other toes.
Certain tendons, ligaments and supportive structures of the first metatarsal (long bone behind the toe) are not functioning correctly. This can be due to flat feet, excessively flexible ligaments, abnormal bone structure, and certain neurological conditions. Certain types of shoes (high heeled and pointy) worsens the problems caused by the foot type.
Bunions are associated with arthritis, altered range of motion at the joint and discomfort with pressure applied to the bump or with motion of the joint.
Change in footwear, orthotics (arch supports), bunion shields, rest, ice and anti-inflammatories.
Surgery is only necessary when the pain is severe or if the patient wants the bunion corrected.
This is also called “fallen arches.”
In this condition, the arch of the arch of the foot is collapsed with the entire sole coming into complete or near complete contact with the ground. In some 20 -30% of the population, the arch never develops in one or both feet.
In infants the appearance of flat feet is common due to the baby fat that masks the arch that is naturally not fully developed yet. It develops as part of muscle, tendon, ligament; and bone growth by age of four to six. However, parents should notice whether a child begins to walk oddly, or limp during long walks and ask the child if he feels foot pain or tiredness.
Flat feet can develop in an adult as a result of injury, illness, unusual stress to the foot, faulty biomechanics, or part of the ageing process and pregnancy. If developed by adulthood, flat feet remain flat. Muscular training while generally helpful does not usually result in a higher arch in adults. However, while the foot is still growing a lasting arch can be treated. Although most flexible flat feet are non-painful, treatment is suggested if there is associated foot, ankle, lower leg, knee or back pain. Treatment includes orthotics/ arch supports and exercises.
The information is not intended to replace a podiatric medical consultation and does not guarantee treatment.