Let us crush a common misconception: people who play or are engaged in intense or extreme sports are not the only ones who are at risk for foot and ankle injury.
If truth be told, most people have had foot and ankle injury at one point or another.
While most injuries are not attributed to routine movements done on a day-to-day basis, many symptoms of the condition are traced to everyday wear and tear and overuse.
Oftentimes, foot and ankle injuries occur as a result of:
- Chores and projects at home
- Sports or recreational activities
- Chores that are work-related
However, gymnasts, dancers, soccer and basketball players are more susceptible to the condition compared to people that are not involved in any challenging or competitive fields.
Older adults on the other hand become more prone to foot and ankle injury because of loss of both muscle mass and bone strength (osteopenia). Vision and balance problems will also significantly increase injury risks.
In children, foot and ankle injuries often occur during falls, sports, and play. If the bone injury is near a joint, thorough evaluation would be recommended to help guarantee the physis (growth plate) is not in any way compromised.
Fortunately, majority of foot and ankle injuries often respond to home treatments.
However, for injuries that are secondary to twisting, bending, jamming, falling, etc., medical attention is recommended. Medical attention is especially needed when bruising and swelling occurs.
When it comes to foot and ankle injuries, it is reassuring to know there are plenty of diverse options one can choose from.
Medications, special shoes (with orthotic devices), physical therapy, and first aid measures (brace, cast, and splint) are just some of the options available at the patient’s disposal.
Treatment approach will however depend on the following key factors:
- The injury’s location, severity, and type
- When the injury occurred
- The patient’s overall health
- The patient’s age
- The patient’s activities (work, sports, hobbies, etc.)
Given that the foot or ankle injury is just minor, the following treatment approaches can significantly ease pain and lessen both stiffness and swelling:
- Gently massaging or rubbing the area to minimize the pain and encourage blood flow. However, massaging the injured area is not advisable when there is pain.
- Doing gentle exercises to help ensure flexibility is restored. Alternating between heat and cold treatments are sometimes recommended by experts.
- To help facilitate faster healing, MSA (movement, strength, and alternate) exercises are considered ideal.
Movement – restoring full motion range after an injury should be top priority.
Strength – once movement has been restored successfully, strengthening the injured area should be the next goal.
Alternate activities – while healing, incorporating exercises in the daily activities is considered ideal.
- To help guarantee swelling does not escalate further, avoiding elements that can increase swelling (i.e. alcoholic beverages, hot tubs, hot packs, and hot showers, to name a few) is recommended.
To ensure, foot and ankle injuries are kept at bay, the following helpful tips should be taken to heart:
- Change running shoes every 3 months – experts recommend purchasing a new pair of running shoes every 3 months (or 500 miles of wear).
- Wear proper footwear – the right shoes should not only be comfortable but should also provide good support.
- Consider wearing supportive brace – wrapping the foot or ankle during exercises or activities can also help minimize injury risks significantly.
- Train accordingly – ensure you perform ankle, foot, and leg stretches before and after exercising. Sprinting excessively should also be avoided.
- Lose the excess pounds – extra weight can put extra strain and stress on the ankle.
- Avoid foot and ankle overuse – repeated movements (especially when done excessively) might cause injury to the bursa or the tendons.