Your feet and ankles have a big job, supporting and helping move you throughout life. No wonder then that they can be the source of a number of health problems. McLeod Orthopaedic Specialist Ross Taylor, MD, explains:
Here’s a summary of Dr. Taylor’s comments:
The most common foot and ankle problems are related to 1) injuries, such as fractures, dislocations and even tendon injuries; 2) degenerative, such as arthritis or tendon tears and; 3) deformities that result from really either of the first two categories.
Injuries or degenerative changes can result in deformities in the foot or ankle. Those most common deformities would be bunions, flat foot deformities and even a high arch. An excessively high arch can create problems for patients.
Achilles tendinitis is one of the more common problems I see. Achilles tendinitis can occur in the body of the tendon itself. It usually manifests as pain around the back of the ankle. It’s not always in an athletically active individual. Couch potatoes get sick, too.
The Achilles tendon is that cord like structure that runs along the back of the ankle. We can reach back there and feel it. Patients may notice that they are tender back or even thickened back there.
Also, commonly, we can get Achilles tendinitis at the insertion of the Achilles tendon on the back of the heel bone. That problem manifests more commonly as enlargement at the insertion point of the Achilles tendon. We have a natural bump back there to begin with, but it can even become more enlarged, thickened and very painful.
How to determine the difference between a fracture and a sprain? Most of us will sprain our ankle at some point in our life. Particularly if we have a high arch or are athletically active. We can turn our foot inwards, creating the ankle sprain, an injury to the ligaments, the soft tissues that maintain the ankle. A fracture involves the same ligaments, but they actually pull a piece of bone off. Determining whether it’s a sprain or fracture requires an X-ray and the hand of an experienced physician. If you sprain your ankle, if it’s swollen, tender or bruised, see your family physician or go to the emergency room. And if you need additional care, see an orthopedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle care.