The foot and the ankle work in conjunction with each other. The foot provides the platform for which the body stands upon. The ankle allows the foot to have lateral and side to side movement. Without the ankle, the foot would not be able to place the body in motion.
For such a seemingly small part of your body, the foot and ankle are tremendously complex body parts that operate completely differently. Within just the foot and ankle, you have 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons. 25% of the bones in the body are found in this small area alone.
Together, these body parts provide the necessary balance and support to provide you with motion. If any single one of these elements falters, you can have repercussions that can ripple throughout the body.
What is Foot Pain?
Someone once said that the difference between animals and human beings are feet. While something so profound is so crucially wrong, the foot is still something that sets us far apart from the rest of the planet. Our feet bear our weight, let us move, help us rock back and forth anxiously, help us dance, help us experience so much of our life.
When foot pain arrives, the moving stops. You’re no longer going forward. You have to stay put due to searing pain. When this happens, don’t fall down and let pain consume you. Learn about it and let someone help you get back to moving.
How Does the Foot Work?
Your foot in a complex machine that functions like a workhorse. All of the parts of a foot work together in tandem to make sure you’re able to walk, stand, run, dance, and all of those good things.
The foot is divided into three parts:
The forefoot is the front of the foot. It contains phlanges (better known as toes) as well as the metatarsals. One of the major functions of the forefoot is to bear the weight of the body. Due to the way the forefoot is designed, you are able to distribute weight accordingly and maintain balance. This partially allows for upright walking.
The midfoot contains three arches for the foot: two arches that run longitudinal, or “longways,” with the foot, and a transverse, or “horizontal”, arch. The arches themselves are comprised of five bones: the navicular, the cuboid, and three cuneiform bones.These arches acts as weight distributors as well as shock absorbers. Instead of having a flat surface slap against the ground, causing each impact to be felt, the arches are able to provide adequate leveling by slight elevation.
This portion of the foot is comprised of two bones: the calcanus and the talus. The calcanus is more simply known as the heel, and the talus, which helps create the ankle.
What Causes Foot Pain?
All of your weight comes down on your foot. Similarly, your foot is in contact with everything below.
This is similar to placing a bowling ball on a square foot of wooden plank, but then moving the wooden plank constantly. Due to wear and tear, the wooden plank is bound to give out simply due to environmental stress.
The human foot is designed far better than a simple wooden plank, but the wear and tear can be similar. Whether it’s from an athletic injury, unforeseen misstep, or simple daily use, foot pain can come from anywhere at any time. These can cause inflamed muscles, pinched nerves, and searing back pain.
Conditions that can arise from poor foot health include:
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Heel Spurs
- Fallen Arches
Home Remedies for Foot Pain
The simplest remedy for foot pain is to get good foot support. Without proper care for your feet, the arches can wear down, causing severe foot and back pain. By owning several pairs of shoes with the proper arch support, your feet can keep going for a long time.
Additionally, make sure you have the right shoes. This means being thorough with your choice. If the shoe does not properly fit, you should not wear it. Constricted or loose fits can constrain proper foot function. Without proper function, the shoes become less a benefit and more of a hindrance.
Another consideration is the heel. It is on record that a shoe with a high heel can damage your foot irreparably. A high heel places all of your body’s weight on the forefoot. This is incredibly damaging and dangerous. In order to maintain your health, you must have a shoe that has a flat sole, regardless of leg aesthetics.
What is Ankle Pain?
The foot would be nothing without the ankle. Where you are able to stand on your own two feet, the ankle lets you move forward with grace and ease. It pivots and moves, no matter how rough the terrain is underneath you. Whether your running fast or slow, on rough or smooth terrain, your ankle is able to adjust flawlessly.
Pain in your ankle affects how you live. If your ankle is stiff or inflamed, you have to adjust your walking patterns. Suddenly, options are taken away from you. The activities you loved before aren’t nearly as fun now that you can’t do them. It’s time to take your pain into your own hands.
How Does the Ankle Work?
Basically, the ankle is comprised in two parts:
- Upper Ankle
The upper ankle is comprised of the talus (mentioned above), as well as the tibia and fibula. The tibia and fibula make up the bottom portion of the leg and connect with the foot. In conjunction with the tendons and ligaments, the upper ankle is able to provide vertical movement for your foot. This allows you to push forward and walk.
- Lower Ankle
This part connects the midfoot and hindfoot to the heel. This part of the ankle does not move up and down, unlike its upper counterpart. Instead, the lower ankle allows for limited movement side to side. This allows for balancing as well as navigating difficult terrain.
What Causes Ankle Pain?
Ankle pain has numerous causes, all vastly different from one another. One of the more common injuries that causes ankle pain is a sprain. A sprain is a simpler name for a tear within a ligament. This mostly occurs by participating in strenuous physical activity.
Remedies for Ankle Pain
Since ankle pain can be caused by massive amounts of physical exertion, the quickest way of remedying ankle pain is to cut out that activity. By ceasing any overactivity, this allows your body to catch up and begin to repair itself.
A great help to alleviate swelling is applying ice packs or something cold. By applying cold temperatures, this helps constrict blood flow, thereby reducing swelling. The same effects can happen by utilizing an ankle support or a wrap.
If ankle pain is more severe, consult a physician. This may be where over the counter medication such as ibuprofen could assist. It is important to utilize anti-inflammatory medication over others, as this will help address the issue of swelling. Steroid injections could help as well, but can be extreme.
In rare cases where internal ligaments, tendons, or bones within the ankle are beyond healing properly, or if tumors or infection are the cause of the pain, invasive surgery is required. Only the most severe of pain is considered for surgery, as this is a last option.
The best option for ankle rehabilitation is often physical therapy. By placing an emphasis on physical rehabilitation versus short term pain relief, you will be able to return your body back to normal through strengthening.
Making the ankle stronger can help prevent further injury to the area. Similarly, through the process of physical therapy, one can absorb a tremendous amount of education regarding their injury and the steps that led them to an injury. Education can often prevent further injury, creating a greater awareness of the environment that one operates in.
Symptoms of Ankle Pain
Proper symptoms of ankle problems can include:
- General numbness
- Inability to place any weight on foot
To a lesser extent, if you feel any stiffness or general inability to move your ankle, it’s worth exploring options.
The symptoms of ankle pain are quite obvious. However, the necessary methods to stop the pain can vary. In order to identify the solution, one has to identify what kind of pain is occurring with the ankle. Only then can the proper rehabilitation begin.
The Achilles Tendon
This is one of the longest tendons in the body. It runs from the back of your heel all the way up to the top of the calf. This allows for the human body to have finer control of the foot. The tendon allows for vertical movement, allowing for the foot to point itself downwards.
The Achilles Tendon is also very prone to injury. This tendon works best when utilizing gradual motion instead of sudden. Because of this, a great majority of Achilles Tendon injuries occur due to sudden movements, like when a linebacker of a football team launches themselves at their opposition. This can render the Achilles Tendon in horrendous pain.
Typically, an Achilles Tendon injury radiates along the back of the shin. The pain can intensify when standing specifically on your toes or stretching out. It’s also not uncommon to feel stiffness, tenderness, and swelling within that area as well.
Achilles Tendon injuries can also be identified through specific symptoms. When you were injured, if you heard a loud popping sound, then had any of the above symptoms, your Achilles Tendon is most likely the affected area. If you are also having difficulty in flexing the muscles within the foot, this could be symptomatic of Achilles Tendon issues.
In order to truly treat the Achilles Tendon, along with the foot and ankle, it will be necessary to see a professional.
How Can BioMotion Help Me?
There are hundreds of physical therapists out there in the world. We’re not going to tell you that there aren’t fantastic physical therapists out there in the world. There are some amazing people out there that work well with the clients that they have.
BioMotion is different. Every single day, we see our clients working through the pain and struggling to get back to a pain free life. Each day, we’re there with them, giving them the knowledge and the motivation to push forward. Without us, their struggle for a life free of pain would be so much harder.
Without them, we wouldn’t be the people we are.
Our clients are family to us. While we help them improve and grow, they help us grow and improve our company. Our methods. Our daily lives. It’s not uncommon to come home with a completely different perspective on life because of the power that we see daily at BioMotion.
Overcoming such great pain is never easy. It’s the hardest thing some people will do. We see that and we take that home with us. We let that inform our life with future clients. We make sure to personalize each client’s care routine and send them home feeling better than ever.
If you have foot, ankle, or Achilles Tendon problems, we can help. By working with BioMotion, we can help you take the steps towards walking again. Through a steady regiment of physical strengthening, along with thorough education and personal accountability, we will help you. Each session will see some sort of improvement, small or large, in the way that you walk.
BioMotion Physical Therapy prides itself on family, achievement, and growing. We grow every day. Let us help you grow into the pain free life you deserve.