Pain around the foot and ankle is a common occurrence for people during their lifetime. Some recover quickly, but for a few, the pain affects how they function in their daily lives.
The most common type of ankle and foot injuries that most people deal with are Achilles tendonitis, ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, ankle fractures and stress fractures.
Achilles tendonitis usually develops as an overuse injury with pain in the top and back of the heal, closer to where the Achilles attaches to the heel bone. When an ankle sprain occurs, one or more ligaments have been stretched or torn. The pain will usually be found around the outside of the ankle just beyond the end of the outside bone of the ankle, the fibula, where ligaments attach. Swelling and bruising are common within a couple of hours of an ankle sprain.
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the fascia band of tissue in the arch of the foot becomes inflamed. Pain is localized to the bottom and inside of the heal, where the fascia attaches to the heel bone. Usually, pain occurs for the first couple of steps in the mornings and typically will improve with activities as the fascia stretches out but recurs after a period of rest.
Ankle fractures normally happen after a traumatic event or impact to the ankle.
Pain and swelling result from the injury and develop around the entire ankle. Patients typically are unable to put weight down on the foot because of pain, which can be a distinguishing difference from an ankle sprain.
The impact of excessive and repetitive force can cause damage to the bones in the foot. If the bone does not heal faster than the repetitive stress, then a stress fracture can develop. The pain will be localized to the bone that is injured, and swelling and redness may also occur. Most frequently, these stress fractures are found in the long bones of the feet.
What happens if injuries are left untreated?
If injuries are left untreated, they can cause serious pain for the person. Leaving injuries untreated can lead to long term wear and tear to the ankle joint in particular. Even something as simple as an ankle sprain, if left untreated, can lead to long term problems with chronic ankle pain, damage to the ankle joint cartilage and early onset ankle arthritis.
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