Whether you are eight or 80, the key to a healthy life is staying active. That’s hard to do when your feet and ankles hurt. If the pain is severe enough to limit your activity level, it can lead to health problem such as cardiovascular issues, diabetes, and more.
“Foot pain is never normal. The longer diagnosis and treatment are delayed, the more susceptible a person is for future injuries,” said Ashtabula County Medical Center Podiatrist Michelle Dunbar, DPM.
An ankle or foot injury occurs when the soft tissue (muscles, tendons, and ligaments) or bones are damaged. Injury occurs when the ankle or foot rolls or twists unnaturally or is hit by something.
“We might shake off a mild ankle or foot injury by icing it or resting for a few days. If the ankle or foot is stiff in the morning or stiffens after you’ve been sitting a while, it could indicate a soft tissue injury. A constant pain as you walk or move could indicate injury to the bone,” Dr. Dunbar said.
If your ankle or foot is injured, a podiatrist may diagnose the injury with tests such as X-rays, MRIs, or an ultrasound. Treatment options range from pain medication and physical therapy to surgical repair.
Prevention is the best way to avoid ankle or foot injuries. Dr. Dunbar said calf raises, balancing on one leg, and doing Achilles tendon stretches help strengthen your muscles. Wearing the proper shoes also helps. Shoes that fit well and are secured correctly should not slide on your foot or roll if you step on an uneven surface.
Dr. Dunbar said, “With warmer weather coming, people will be wearing flip-flops and sandals. Some of these can put stress on your tendons or toes and lead to chronic pain or injury such as tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, or pain in the knees or hips.”
To minimize the risk of injury, shoes should always provide good arch support and encase the heel or have a heel strap, so the shoe does not slide or come off your foot while walking.