Foot and Ankle FAQ
Common causes of foot pain often include over-exertion or lifestyle choices, like wearing ill-fitting shoes. Women who frequently wear high heels for long periods of time might experience pain in their toes and heels. You can also develop foot pain due to injuries during high-impact exercises or sports activities like running, intense aerobics or jumping.
Accidents that cause damage to bones and nerves can often cause tingling and periodic pain for years after healing. However, foot pain is often associated with medical conditions such as:
- Achilles Tendinitis
- Undiagnosed fractures
- Diabetic Neuropathy
- Athlete’s foot
- Plantar fasciitis
- In rare cases, benign of malignant tumor
This depends on the location of the injury and the type of fracture. The severity of the injury will also determine the treatment plan. For instance, if you have a displaced fracture, doctors will manipulate the pieces of bones to their original position, through a process called reduction. This may be done by administering a sedative or under general anesthesia. Most metatarsal fractures require periods of elevation and limited weight bearing. You may be provided with a removable brace, boot or shoe, or a cast.
However, surgery is necessary if you have fractured several metatarsals at the same time or your foot is unstable and deformed. In such cases, orthopaedic surgeons will resort to surgery to get your bones back in proper position, using screws, pins and plates.
The first step after an ankle injury is to consult a doctor. This is to rule out any fracture or dislocation, before you start with home care. If you have fractured your ankle, you may need a cast or reduction. Damage caused to external skin or severe internal damage might require prescription antibiotics. The doctor might also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs. In case you don’t have a serious injury, you will be asked to follow the RICE method of treatment. RICE means Rest, Ice/Heat, Compression and Elevation.
- Rest: Rest the ankle for healing and do not return to sports and other activities until completely healed.
- Ice: Use ice packs to ease pain and swelling. However, this should be done initially. After the swelling has subsided, heat can be applied.
- Compression: Try wrapping a crepe bandage over the ankle joint, to stabilize it and reduce swelling.
- Elevation: Keeping the ankle joint elevated higher than your heart level prevents accumulation of fluids in the joints.
Sprain means you have injured your ligaments, but a fracture means you have broken at least one of the three ankle bones. Here are some things to consider to know the difference:
- Was there a crack? Noise of bones cracking may indicate a fracture. Sprains will occur silently or at the most, follow a popping noise.
- Is the ankle numb? If you have numbness or tingling sensations, it’s most likely a fracture.
- How bad is the pain? If you have severe pain when you touch your ankle bone directly, it can be a fracture. Sometimes sprains can cause excessive pain as well.
- Does the ankle look deformed? Swelling is common in sprains, twists and fractures. However, if the ankle looks positioned at an odd angle, it probably is a fracture.
The best way to determine this is to consult a specialist, who will conduct X-Ray imaging or MRI to rule out fracture.