Common foot and ankle injuries
We are heavily reliant on the function of the foot, allowing us to walk whilst supporting our entire body weight. As it is such a significant joint there is an increased risk of injury following overuse or from slips, trips and falls.
Injuries vary in their severity from a simple strain requiring a few days of rest to more serious conditions resulting in surgery and a lengthy spell of physiotherapy. No injury is the same on two people as our bodies are different in dealing with and managing injury.
There are two separate joints within the ankle providing upwards and downwards movements, formed by the connection of the tibia and fibula with the talus bone. The heel-bone (calcaneus) forms the subtalar joint with the talus bone, providing sideways movement of the foot.
The foot is made up of the talus and calcaneal bones, seven tarsal bones, five metatarsals and fourteen phalanges which form the toes.
The calf muscles connect to the heel through the Achilles (Calcaneal) tendon. Damage here can compromise your ability to lift the heel causing the foot to drag. The muscles running down the front of the lower leg connect to the bones in the top of the foot through several tendons, these muscles help to control both the up, down and sideways movements of the foot.
Damage to ligaments is one of the more serious injuries incurred, as these tough bands of tissue connect the bones within a joint and are responsible for overall stability which allows you to walk, run and jump.
Drop foot is a condition affecting your ability to lift your foot when walking which can lead to trips and falls. The condition can establish itself following Myositis, Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a Stroke or nerve damage in the knee.
The chances of a complete recovery largely depend on the origins of the condition, with physiotherapy helping to rebuild strength within the foot and ankle to provide you with additional control over your movements.
A drop foot support may also be used to help prevent the foot from dropping when walking, with a number of variants on the market depending on personal preference.
Every year the NHS sees over 1 million sprained ankles in their accident and emergency departments making it one of the most common ankle injuries in the UK. The injury itself occurs where there is a sudden unnatural movement of the joint following a slip, trip or fall which stretches the ligaments beyond their normal range of motion.
The majority of ankle injuries are self-limiting and following a few days of rest with ice and compression to help manage the inflammation you should be back on your feet and back in action. Compression can be delivered via an ankle support which can keep you mobile for longer.
Ankle injuries are graded on their severity, with tears or ruptures to the ligaments sometimes requiring surgery to remedy leading to a lengthy spell of rehabilitation. Where there is instability in the ankle then typically a rigid ankle support or ligament ankle support is used to offer stability and minimise the risk of the ankle rolling again during recovery.
Achilles Tendonitis is a condition which typically affects males between the ages of 30 and 50 and can affect anyone regardless of their activity levels. The condition can cause inflammation of the tendon which can impact on your mobility and whilst it is largely a self-limiting condition it can take time to heal which is why many opt for non-weight bearing sports during recovery such as swimming or cycling.
A professional diagnosis is essential prior to determining treatment options and giving you the best possible chance of a speedy recovery. Treatment can consider anything from rest, physiotherapy, the use of an orthosis, surgery or a combination of all of them.
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