FOOT & ANKLE PAIN:
How can an Osteopath help you?
Foot & Ankle Pain

Foot and Ankle Pain Treatment

Depending on the diagnosis and your age and fitness we can use a variety of gentle massage, dry needling, joint mobilisation and manipulation techniques to increase the mobility of the joints, the rebalancing of ligaments and the flexibility of the muscles in the foot. We will often look at lower limb muscles and more remote joints such as the knee, hip, pelvis and lower back and may treat any joint restrictions and muscle tightness we find there. Often improving the movement in the joints of the hip, pelvis and lower back will help the foot and ankle function better. We will probably offer you specific balancing, strengthening or loosening exercises. We may offer advice on strapping and brace supports, footwear and other lifestyle factors that might either hinder or foster healing. Occasionally we may refer patients to a podiatrist for a second opinion and possible specialist foot support.

We sometimes require X-rays, scans and other tests to make a diagnosis and on rarer occasions may refer you to a GP or a specialist for additional investigation or treatment.

Foot and Ankle Pain Symptoms

Pain can occur in the foot and ankles for a number of reasons. The foot and ankle are made up of a number of small bones bound by ligaments, muscles and fascia all working together to give the strength, stability and flexibility the foot and ankle need to function properly.

Pain Symptoms

Common conditions affecting the foot and ankle and areas which can give rise to pain include:

Acquired flat foot – when the inner side of the foot, or inner arch, flattens. The foot may roll over to the inner side (known as over-pronation). It is often apparent if the heels of shoes wear out quickly and unevenly. Over-pronation can damage your ankle and foot joints and achilles tendon (the large tendon at the back of your ankle) and can also cause shin, knee or hip pain. Local symptoms can include foot pain, swelling and change in foot shape.

Plantar fasciitis –is pain and inflammation in the plantar fascia – the tough fibrous band of ligaments supporting the arches of the foot and running under the small bones from the underside of the heel and sole towards the toes, Often, people who have plantar fasciitis describe it as a sharp pain, most often under the heel or instep of the foot, almost like having a pebble in one’s shoe. It tends to be made worse by standing for long periods of time in poor footwear. Sufferers commonly mention that it is worse when standing after being off their feet for a long time, and it can hurt more putting the foot on the floor first thing in the morning. The sole of the foot can occasionally feel a little numb, tingly or swell slightly. In some cases of plantar fasciitis, a small spur of bone can grow where the plantar fascia attaches and pulls on the heel which can cause a sharp pain.

Achilles pain –The Achilles tendon is formed by the tendons of two large calf muscles, the gastrocnemius and soleus coming together and attaching onto the bone at the back of the heel called the calcaneus. Inflammation or tendonitis of the Achilles tendon can cause pain and tightness in this area and will impede normal walking or running.

Sprained ankle. Typically the result of a sudden twisting or “going over” on the ankle joint and more commonly it is the ligaments on the outside of the ankle that are sprained (a.k.a. “inversion sprain”). Typical symptoms are swelling, bruising, pain and instability of the ankle potentially causing a reoccurrence of similar sprains. Sometimes an x-ray is required to rule out any fracture. Rest, ice, elevation and compression are often advisable in the first 24 to 48 hours followed by manual therapy.

Exercise Videos

We have selected the exercises we most frequently advise our patients to do and turned them into short video clips.

bridge to health excercise video


New to Osteopathy?

Read an overview of what to expect when visiting an osteopath here

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Top Tips to Avoid Foot and Ankle Pain

  • 1.“Use it or loose it” – walk 20 to 30 minutes a day, to and from work, or during a lunch break
  • 2.Walk barefoot if possible at home or even at work
  • 3.Use a balance board or “wobble board” for 10-15 minutes a day at home to strengthen calf and ankle muscles
  • 4.Use a small pricke ball such as the “Footrubz” brand to massage a bare or socked foot at work or at home, stimulating blood supply and nerve endings
  • 5.Shower calves and ankles in alternating hot/cold water to stimulate local blood supply
  • 6.Avoid poor unsupportive footwear such as Ugg boots or high heel shoes
  • 7.If you are a runner, seek professional assessment and advice before buying running shoes and run on grass or sports tracks rather than pavement and tarmac
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