Experiencing pain in the foot or ankle can be quite discomfiting. If the pain is severe enough, it can limit your ability to walk, which could lead to a gradual cycle of weakened muscles, reduced strength, and even more pain. Nonetheless, I am happy to report that most instances of foot and ankle pain are not the result of a serious underlying condition.
What are the most common causes of foot and ankle pain? This post will answer that question. As you read, bear in mind that I am a private consultant for osteoarthritis, rheumatology, fibromyalgia, and other conditions that cause acute and chronic pain. My London office is open and accepting visits from new patients.
Causes of Foot and Ankle Pain
Most causes of foot and ankle pain are minor by comparison. The first two that come to mind are sprains and strains. These occur when ligaments are stretched beyond their ability to respond appropriately. In the most severe cases, ligaments are actually torn. Other causes include:
- Tendonitis – The ‘itis’ suffix in medical terms refers to inflammation. Therefore, tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon. It is generally the result of an acute injury. Pain subsides as the injury heals.
- Arthritis – As an osteoarthritis specialist, this is the cause I see most of the time. The disease takes dozens of forms including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis – all of which can cause pain in the feet and ankles.
- Plantar Fasciitis – This condition occurs on the underside of the foot. It is essentially inflammation of the planter fascia, and it often is the result of repetitive stress. It is a very painful condition but one that usually resolves by itself.
- Bursitis – When the fluid-filled sacs known as bursa become inflamed, we call it bursitis. Pain is just one of the many symptoms presented with the condition. It can affect the ankles and the joints of the toes.
Among all six of these conditions, arthritis is the most likely to cause chronic pain. The medical profession considers chronic pain to be that which lasts for more than 12 weeks and is experienced regularly, if not continually. Chronic pain in your feet or ankles is good reason to see a rheumatology consultant.
Treating Ankle and Foot Pain
We have a variety of methods for treating ankle and foot pain, depending on its root cause. Before I could recommend a treatment, I would have to examine you and possibly run some tests. Most of the minor causes will resolve by themselves, requiring only mild pain medication to help you cope until healing is complete.
In addition to pain medication, certain types of foot and ankle pain can be treated with steroid joint injections. This is a common treatment for arthritis pain. Physiotherapy is another option, especially where sprains, strains, and tendonitis are concerned. Last but not least is immunosuppression, a therapy used to treat autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
There is no need for you to live indefinitely with foot and ankle pain. If you are suffering from pain that you believe should have already resolved itself, I invite you to make an appointment to visit my London clinic. I will help you get to the root of your problem and recommend the best possible treatment.
Article by Dr. Naveen Bhadauria