Your feet and ankles are your foundation. They are also highly complex, with dozens of bones, joints, nerves, tendons, and other structures that must occupy the same space and work together to keep you moving. Unfortunately, these factors make feet and ankles extremely vulnerable to injury.
Some injuries happen in a single, traumatic instant—a twisted ankle on the football field, a fall off a ladder, an auto accident. Others build up slowly over time, as the wear and tear of daily life accumulates. Either way, you want a foot and ankle expert on your side to assess the damage and recommend effective treatment responses.
Common Acute Injuries
The “over in an instant” category of injuries can include the likes of:
- Sprains and strains. These closely related terms represent overstretching and tearing in the body’s soft connective tissues. Sprains affect ligaments (which connect bones to other bones), while strains refer to muscles and tendons (which connect bones to muscle). Example include ankle sprains, turf toe, or Achilles tendon ruptures.
- Fractures. More serious collisions or twisting can result in broken bones. A broken bone may be obvious (if there is visible disfigurement or misalignment), or it may only be revealed on an X-ray. More stable fractures (the bones remain in position) can usually be treated via immobilization, but more complicated breaks usually require surgical reconstruction.
- Dislocations. Instead of breaking, bones may pop out of place due to a sudden force or twist. Even if the bone is quickly popped back into place, surrounding connective tissues, nerves, and blood vessels may have been damaged.
- Crush injuries. A more complex form of a fracture, where bones and soft tissues have been crushed or shattered by a heavy force. These may result from dropping heavy objects on feet, or in auto collisions.
- Puncture wounds. Usually caused by stepping on something sharp, puncture wounds can be especially vulnerable to infection. Although they may not bleed significantly, they may be difficult to clean and are appealing for bacteria.
Common Overuse Injuries
Foot and ankle injuries more likely to develop slowly over time include:
- Heel pain. Heel pain has many different potential causes, but most arise due to repetitive stress and trauma. The most common condition is plantar fasciitis, which results from stretching, tearing, and swelling in the plantar fascia tissue on the bottom of the foot. Achilles tendinitis, bursitis, pinched nerves, and Sever’s disease (which affects teenagers) are other possible causes.
- Tendinitis. Tendons can be inflamed, irritated, or damaged by overuse just as easily as they are by trauma. The most famous (or infamous) example is Achilles tendinitis, which affects the heel cord at the back of the ankle. However, tendinitis is also common elsewhere, including the top and sides of the feet and ankles.
- Ball of Foot Pain. This is also known as metatarsalgia, and like heel pain can result from a number of potential conditions. Neuromas and injuries to the sesamoid bones are common causes, aside from normal swelling and bruising.
- Stress fractures. These are hairline cracks in the surface of bones. They are common in the load-bearing metatarsal bones of the arch. Repetitive wear and tear weakens the soft tissues that normally provide shock absorption; more force therefore gets transferred to the bones, which begin to crack under the strain.
- Shin splints. Also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, “shin splints” can refer to any pain, swelling, or tearing along the shinbone in the front of the lower leg.
Attentive, Effective Care for Your Injury
Some foot and ankle injuries will resolve on their own with just a little rest and patience. Others may require some simple remedies, like physical therapy, taping, casting, or orthotics. Particularly stubborn or ill-time injuries may respond better to more advanced therapies (including regenerative medicine and shockwave), while the most serious may need surgery.
Regardless of the nature or severity of your injury, our team of specialists have only one goal—helping you get better with appropriate and effective treatment. Whether you need surgery or just a new pair of shoes, we’ll give you our honest opinion and treat you like a member of our own family. Our broad range of specialties, advanced training, and state-of-the-art facilities allow us to offer comprehensive and personalized treatment options at every step of the process.
To book an appointment, please submit a contact form online, or call one of our conveniently located Portland-area offices today.