Many people, at one point in their lives or another have probably experienced foot and ankle injury.
In most cases, these injuries are not attributed to the usual body movements. Rather they can be the result of overuse and everyday wear and tear.
A foot and ankle injury can occur during:
- Work-related tasks
- Recreational or sports activities
- Projects or work at home
In the case of children, foot and ankle injuries happen while engaged in sports or play. It can also result from falls. Injury risks are higher for those who play sports that require quick direction changes (football and soccer), and jumping (basketball).
Certain athletes like gymnasts, basketball and soccer players, and dancers have a higher risk of foot and ankle injuries.
Older adults are also susceptible to fractures and foot and ankle injuries because they lose bone strength (osteopenia) and muscle mass as they age. They are likely to also already have vision and balance problems—two factors that can further increase their risks.
Minor injuries will often heal on their own. In most cases, home remedies can relieve the symptoms and heal the injury.
This type of injury can result from a fall, penetration injury, or direct blow. Or it can also be attributed to jerking, jamming, twisting, or abnormally bending a limb.
Pain is characterized as severe and sudden.
Swelling and bruising often manifest after the injury.
Some common acute foot and ankle injuries include:
- Strains or pulled muscles – muscles of the ankle and the foot can be strained and may sometimes rupture.
- Sprains – if the condition does not heal despite treatment, it can be a telltale indication of a condition known as osteochondritis dissecans.
- Contusions – bruising from ankle injuries may extend to the toes.
- Tendon injuries – conditions like Achilles tendinitis occurs when the heel tendons are ruptured.
These types of injuries happens when too much strain and stress is placed on the joint and other tissues.
The stress and strain can be due to repetition or overdoing of an activity over and over.
Common overuse injuries include:
- Plantar fasciitis – this refers to the inflammation of the broad, flat ligament found on the bottom of the foot known as the plantar fascia.
- Retrocalcaneal bursitis – this condition is the result when the bursa is inflamed. This can also cause tenderness and swelling of the back of the ankle and the heel.
To prevent foot and ankle injuries, keep the following beneficial tips in mind:
- Wear good footwear. Opt for shoes that offer good support and is comfortable.
- Change your running shoes often. Ideally, experts recommend buying a new pair after 500 miles of wear or at least every 3 months.
- Wear a supportive brace. Or you can also wrap your ankle or foot during activities or exercises to reduce injury risks.
- Train properly. Make sure you do foot, ankle, and leg stretches before and after exercise. Excessive sprinting should also be avoided.
- Refrain from overusing your ankle or foot. Repeated movements might cause injury to your tendons or bursa.
- Maintain the right weight for your height. Get rid of the excess weight if you have to as the extra weight can put stress and strain on your foot and ankle.
- Wear the right athletic shoes. When buying shoes, go for ones that come with cushioned soles and offer good arch support. Check with your podiatrist, orthopedist, or sports medicine health professional so you will be given advice on the right pair to invest in.