What causes foot and ankle pain?
Dysfunctions of the foot and ankle often have widespread impacts because these complex structures provide support, shock absorption and balance for the entire body. On the other hand, dysfunctions in the low back, hip and knee may cause pain in the lower leg and foot. For these reasons, it is very important to reach a proper diagnosis in order to treat the underlying conditions.
Common conditions seen by chiropractors include acute/chronic ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis.
In most instances, foot and ankle pain is caused by a lack of proper support or inappropriate footwear, with 80% of patients having pronated feet (flat feet) and 10% having high arches. Both of these conditions may cause plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the plantar fascia), which in turn causes pain on the bottom of feet/heels and increases the incidence of ankle sprains.
What is the chiropractic treatment approach for foot and ankle pain?
- Reduce pain - The goal of treatment initially would be to reduce the pain, or to “break the pain cycle”. As the pain level is reduced, the muscles will relax, reversing the pain cycle. Certain modalities, such as ultrasound therapy, and soft tissue massage may be employed to provide pain relief and reduce inflammation.
- Restore normal joint mechanics - Depending on the examination findings, your chiropractor will adjust (manipulate) the joints that are misaligned (subluxated). Shockwave therapy may be applied to enhance scar tissue breakdown and tissue healing. Orthotic insoles will also be prescribed to establish correct walking mechanics.
- Improve flexibility and strength – To prevent future injuries, it is important to improve the flexibility of the joints and improve muscle strength. Your doctor will advise you on appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises according to your physical needs and fitness level.
- Lifestyle adjustments – Your chiropractor will work with you to identify lifestyle adjustments that will help you maximize the quality of your health.
What are the Recommended Treatments for Foot & Ankle Pain?*
- Spinal manipulation - for restoration of joint movements
- Dry-needling - for pain relief and relax muscles
- Ultrasound Therapy - for reducing inflammation
- Interferential Current Therapy - for relaxing muscles and enhance circulation
- Shockwave Therapy - to speed up tissue healing
Author: Dr Claudia Ng, BSc, DC
* A proper diagnosis has to be obtained for all of the above conditions before an appropriate combination of treatments will be provided. This is just a list of possible treatments for the individual condition but not all of them may be necessary, nor is it limited to those listed only.