Foot and Ankle

foot and ankle therapy

People never realize how important feet are until they hurt! Healthy feet are a vital aspect of insuring the quality of life. Southern Orthopedic Specialists, P.A. providers and staff advise and assist their patients in the proper care and maintenance of their feet to enable comfort and well being.

Since ankle injury, sprains and swelling are the single most common acute ligament injury in the United States, it is important to know the signs of injury, how to prevent injury and what to do if one occurs. Although ankle injuries such as sprains can occur under many different circumstances, they are most likely to occur during active participation in athletics. From track and field events to basketball championships, athletes depend on the ankles ability control balance, forward and lateral movements and the body's weight.

Because of such stress, ankle injuries are the most frequent sports-related injury, accounting for approximately 30% of all such injuries.

Common Types of Ankle Injuries

Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains may be the most common orthopedic injury. Although ankle sprains frequently occur during activity, ankles are often injured by every day activities; stepping off a curb, into a hole or on uneven ground. The patient will often feel as though their ankle has "turned" on its side, in an unnatural movement. Sometimes a "snap" or "pop" will occur. And often, the injured person will find it difficult to walk and swelling of the ankle area will occur. The typical ankle sprain is a result of stretching or tearing of the small ligaments which attach bone to bone on the outside or lateral aspect of the ankle.

Initially, RICE, or Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, should be observed, followed by a professional examination to assure no further injury has occurred or will occur. Treatment options include X-Ray examination (to eliminate concerns of fracture), physical therapy and orthotics (crutches to reduce pressure on joint and braces to support weakness in the injured area are common orthotic options).

Prevention is the best treatment of such ankle sprains and injuries. While participating in activities such as exercise and sports you may reduce your risk of injury by wearing a ankle brace or by getting your ankle taped. Braces are a relatively inexpensive preventative step, and while taping is highly effective it does require an available and trained individual to apply it appropriately.

Ankle Instability

Ankle Instability is when the ligaments do not heal back as strong as normal. This results in an ankle that is unstable and has a tendency to give away, or easily twist unnaturally. Ankle instability can lead to a sore and painful ankle which may become swollen and untrustworthy on rough terrain. Treatment for ankle instability includes a physical therapy program aimed at strengthening muscles around the area of injury, thereby stabilizing the ankle joint from the loss of the ligaments. Orthotics, such as an ankle braces, may also help to control instability while still allowing the joint mobility. Surgery is generally the last treatment option, but may be suggested in order to properly reconstruct torn ligaments.

Tendinitis

Tendinitis is a catch term for inflammation of the tendon itself from an ankle injury, and can often co-exist with paratendinitis causing symptoms of ankle pain, cramps, spasm and aches. The cause of tendinitis usually results from microscopic tears within the tendon and triggering an inflammatory response within the tendon. Common areas susceptible to tendinitis are: achilles, patella, adductor longus, supraspinatus, biceps, tibialis posterior and flexor hallucis longus tendons.

Treatment

Follow on treatment with Southern Orthopedic Specialists, P.A. Rehabilitation Center is commonly recommended for ankle and foot injuries. While treatment is customized to the patients needs, common exercises are listed below:

Range of Motion Exercises

Range of Motion (ROM) Exercises keep the ankle from becoming stiff. In the beginning the therapist will help the patient bend and straighten the ankle, increasing the ankles ability to rotate or ROM. These exercises are done gradually and should be painful.

Strength Progression

Strength Progression will be used to strengthen muscles surrounding the area of injury.Isometrics, exervises in which the muscles are working, but the actual joint does not move, may be used in the early stages of therapy. Utilizing this strategy will build back strength in the area of injury while keeping you away from painful positions of the ankle. These exercises provide the benefit of reducing overall pain and swelling. They also help the muscles remember what they are supposed to be doing.

Balance Exercises

Balance exercises retrain the nerves surrounding the area of injury, restoring your natural proprioception, your bodies understanding of where its parts are within space. This exercise is especially important following an ankle ligament injury.