Foot and ankle pain: What causes it? What can you do about it?

foot-ankle-pain

Foot and ankle pain is so common, it would be more surprising if you could find someone who didn’t at some point feel an ache there. In fact, if you’re on your feet for your job, or lead an active lifestyle, you’ve probably experienced sore, tired or swollen feet and ankles from time to time.

The pain you feel in your ankles or feet can be very individual. Some people have issues with the bones, some with the ligaments and tendons, while still others feel the pinch because they don’t have enough of a fat pad on the bottom of their feet. Everyone is different.

Arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis and a whole host of other conditions can affect how you feel as you go about your day-to-day activities. Pain in the lower extremities can also be caused by other conditions such as gout and diabetes.

As we age, we can also experience discomfort in our feet and ankles. A natural part of the aging process includes our feet getting longer and wider over time. This is because the ligaments and the joints in our feet and ankles change over the years. That’s why it’s best to get your feet measured from time to time when buying new shoes.

These boots were made for walkin’

According to The Merck Manuals, many foot and ankle ailments can be successfully treated by changing your footwear. Make sure your shoes fit properly and offer support. High heels are often a source of pain and discomfort. If you have hammertoes or bunions, reach for the next shoe size up. You also might want to talk to your doctor about inserts that fit in your shoes to provide even more support.

High-tops or low-tops

If you’re into a sport with lots of side-to-side movements, such as basketball or tennis, a high-top athletic shoe is the way to go. Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in sports, so giving your ankles a little more support with your shoes will help keep you in the game. To make sure you get an athletic shoe that fits properly, hit the store post-workout, when your feet are biggest.

Practice your ABCs

A great way to stretch your feet and ankles to relieve pain is to practice the “air alphabet.” While you’re sitting down, or if you can balance on one foot safely, extend one foot out and pretend you’re writing the alphabet in the air with your big toe. When you get through all 26 letters, switch to the other side.

Time to see the doctor?

If you’ve exhausted all the at-home treatments such as pain relievers, ice and heat, check with your physician for other options. Physical therapy, injections and minimally-invasive surgery are all available, depending on your level of comfort.

At Beaumont, we’re not just performing foot care, we’re advancing foot care to help you relieve pain and regain mobility. From synthetic cartilage injections to the leading edge surgical approaches, no matter what orthopedic issue you may have, our specialists are experienced in the latest techniques. We can offer conventional and surgical procedures, including foot and ankle surgery, with minimally invasive techniques that may mean less pain, risk and a faster recovery time.

Your feet and ankles are taking you places. Be good to them and rest them when they’re tired or sore. There really is something to the old adage about “going home and putting your feet up.”


Information provided by Paul Fortin, M.D., Beaumont orthopedic surgeon.

view all stories

Request an Appointment with an Orthopedic Specialist

Submit Now