The foot and ankle are an intricate system of 28 bones, 33 joints, 112 ligaments and numerous muscles. This complex system is capable of bearing weight and navigating uneven terrains.
The main jobs of the foot and ankle include:
- Balance and stability
- Shock absorption
- Supporting bodyweight
How do the feet and ankles work?
The ankle joint is a synovial joint. It allows for inversion, eversion, plantarflexion and dorsiflexion of the foot.
In the foot, there are 28 bones and various muscles associated with it. The muscles are responsible for moving parts of your feet, such as your toes. Some muscles are outside the foot, but they cross the ankle joint and help position the foot.
What causes foot and ankle pain?
Injuries in the foot and ankle are common, particularly in sportspeople, runners and keen walkers. Each foot will take around 1.5 times your bodyweight when walking, and up to 5 times your body weight when running. It isn't surprising that this area can be prone to injury and pain.
However, impact isn't the only cause of foot and ankle pain. Foot and ankle pain can be due to inflammation in the joints caused by arthritis, a muscle or tendon injury and ligament sprains. Weight gain and posture changes can also put significant pressure on your feet and ankles.
When you suffer from foot and ankle pain, you should talk to your GP or Pharmacist about over-the-counter pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen.
A GP will be able to perform an assessment and refer you to a specialist if needed. They may suggest that you rest, ice, compress and elevate (RICE) to relieve symptoms.
A Physiotherapist may use manual therapies and exercise prescriptions to set the foot and ankle right. Sometimes MRI, X-ray or ultrasound scans are required to find the root cause of the problem.
Common foot and ankle injuries and conditions
- Achilles tendinopathy
- Ankle ligament sprains
- Bursitis (joint inflammation)
- Claw toe
- Plantar fasciitis
- Ruptured Achilles
- Stress fracture
Surgeries for the foot and ankle
If physiotherapy does not help, surgery may be the next cause of action.
Surgeries may include:
- MTP Joint Fusion
- Total ankle Replacement
- Ankle Arthrodesis (Ankle Fusion)
- Achilles Tendon Repair
- Claw Toe Correction
- Bunion/Hallux Valgus
You can find out more about these surgeries and what’s involved by visiting our Patient Resource Centre.
Our Orthopaedics team at One Health are highly skilled at assessing and treating foot and ankle pain. Our Surgeons will work closely with Physiotherapists to get you comfortably back on your feet.