At Physio Fit, we love treating foot and ankle pain! As physiotherapists, we have extensive knowledge of the musculoskeletal system and use our expertise in hands on treatment and exercise prescription to ensure we rid these problems for the long term.
There are a number of common concerns we see in the clinic related to the foot and ankle. Some of the most common presentations are:
- Heel pain
- Ankle sprains (injured ligaments)
- Syndesmosis injury (high ankle sprain)
- Calf muscle tear
- Shin splints
- Achilles tendon pain (tendinopathy & tendinitis)
- Plantar fascia pain (plantar fasciopathy or fasciitis)
- Stress fractures
Many factors contribute to foot and ankle pain however the most common we see are due to work, sporting injuries, footwear and doing too much too quickly, or not enough for too long. However, whether you are young or old, active or not so active, or whether your foot and ankle issues are new or been around for a while, we can help you get back to doing the things you love pain free again!
Your feet and ankles are a vital part of everyday movement and activity, and it is incredibly important to look after them. Feet, Heels and Ankles are all vulnerable to pain and injury and physiotherapy can act not only as a treatment for the post injury patient, but also as a preventative measure for any future injuries that could occur.
What contributes to foot & ankle pain?
For those who work on their feet a lot like nurses and hair dressers, the type of footwear and the amount of time walking or standing may contribute to tightness and pain in their feet, ankles and calves. Our team can look at the type of footwear you have and whether it is time for some new shoes, or a change in the type of footwear you are wearing. If footwear is not a concern however, there are plenty of other strategies that can be implemented depending on the demands of your job.
People who play sports that involve a lot of running, change of direction, jumping and tackling are often at a high risk of foot and ankle injuries. Often we see ligament damage due to rolling an ankle on an uneven surface or by landing on someone else’s foot and ankle fractures from feet being trapped underneath themselves or an opponent during a tackle. People with poor balance and spacial awareness of their ankle position will often put increased stress through their ankle joint as well when they run or play sports, causing an injury like rolling your ankle or a build up of pain causing ongoing concerns and disability. Finally, doing too much too quickly or not enough for too long is a big factor that relates to at least a portion of the problem.
At times there may be a specific reason for the differences in activity such as returning back to training or games after an offseason or a different injury altogether (for example returning to football after a shoulder injury, but in that time we haven’t completed any running). In other circumstances, it may be due to our own motivations, such as picking up an interest in running or hiking that our body is simply not used to yet. In terms of not doing enough, aches and pains can develop through a build-up of tightness or pressure when there is a reduction in work or activities requiring a lot of movement, and at times, exercise or moving more can be the exact thing you need!
What can we do about it?
The biggest problem with foot or ankle pain is that it is really difficult to rest or avoid using! This means that the pain can persist for longer and can impact your day to day activities more than other injuries or areas of pain. Because of this, our first priority is to decrease your pain through hands-on treatments such as massage, dry needling, taping or strapping and offloading such as inserts in your shoes or the use of a moon boot in severe cases like a fracture or tendon/ligament rupture (which can be assessed and provided by our in-house Podiatrists in Adelaide).
Once pain has been reduced, we focus on getting you back to moving well and strengthening the areas around the injury. For example, a common condition we see is plantar fasciitis, however the contributing factors to pain in this area is the strength of your calf muscles and a reduction in the range of motion available to your ankle joint. If we only focus on the plantar fascia itself, it is likely that this pain can return once we resume our normal activities again (which may have contributed to the pain in the first place).
We assess the entire lower limb as we may find contributing factors from muscle strength up the thigh and hips or restrictions or tightness around the hip and knee joints. This means that the rehabilitation journey for your foot and ankle pain may actually include knee and hip exercises as well if appropriate. We believe this is the most thorough approach to helping you return back to work or sports as the foot never acts alone.
Physiotherapy for Foot and Ankle Surgery
After any foot or ankle surgery, it is wise to begin your rehabilitation with a Physiotherapist who can get you back doing the things you love again pain free. At Physio Fit, our team of Physiotherapists are well trained in assessing and rehabilitating our clients after foot and ankle surgeries such as ankle ligament reconstructions, ankle arthroscopies and ankle fusions as well as fixations of bones in trauma accidents or syndesmosis injuries.
Unique to Physio Fit (at our Findon clinic) is an advanced piece of technology, helping our clients with ankle injuries or surgeries, is our anti-gravity treadmill. Ankle reconstructions, ankle fractures and foot stress fractures are some of the most common uses for our anti-gravity treadmill as we can decrease the amount of load and body weight going through your joints, allowing you to walk, jog, run or even jump in a safe environment, much earlier than you could in a normal rehab setting. We have seen our clients even perform walking and jogging at 20-40% body weight in our anti-gravity treadmill while still needing a moon boot for day to day activities. This is a large benefit to the rehab process meaning you can build up strength and mobility in the areas we need around the injury, allowing it to heal and recover quicker.
Should I see a Physiotherapist or Podiatrist for my foot pain?
The great news at Physio Fit is we have a team of both, and our goal is to work together to make sure you have the right person looking after you! Traditionally a Physiotherapist has been seen for more acute ankle injuries that are associated with sport and a Podiatrist would be seen for longer lasting aches and pains in the feet. At our clinic however, we work together and share education sessions to ensure our entire team are well equipped to treat both, regardless of the profession.
This means that our clinic you can see either a Physiotherapist or Podiatrist to get an accurate diagnosis, thorough treatment plan as well as treatment options such as hands on massage and joint mobilisation, dry needling and exercise rehabilitation programs to suit your needs.
There are a number of differences in management options though when choosing between a Physiotherapist or Podiatrist in our clinic:
1. Our Podiatrists can refer directly for scans of the foot and ankle (No GP referral is needed)
2. Our Podiatrists have invested in shockwave equipment at both clinics which can help with a variety of painful foot and leg conditions, such as plantar fasciitis and achilles tendon pain
3. Our Podiatrists use 3D imaging to create custom foot orthotics to assist our clients with offloading pressure in the feet and ankles, commonly used for conditions such as shin splints, heel pain, forefoot pain and foot posture concerns (problematic flat feet or high arch feet)