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Foot & Ankle Pain

Foot, Ankle, & Heel Pain

The foot and ankle are among the most frequently used (and stressed) joints in the body. Foot and ankle health are essential in maintaining an active lifestyle, as well as for normal walking.

Our team of orthopedic specialists and podiatrists will begin by diagnosing the cause of your pain, and reviewing treatment options with you. We literally want to get you back on your feet.

Symptoms of Ankle & Foot Problems

People with foot, heel, or ankle pain may suffer from one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Soreness or pain throughout the foot or ankle or in a part of the foot or ankle
  • Difficulty with shoe fit or shoe wear
  • Ankle, foot, and/or toe deformity 
  • Increased stiffness or looseness in any part of the foot or ankle
  • Sores or ulcers on the foot, and drainage / foul odor from ulcers
  • Weakness or inability to stand or bear weight on a foot or ankle
  • Inability to move a toe or ankle through its normal range of motion
  • Ball of foot pain

Conditions That Cause Foot Pain

Typical causes of ankle, heel, and foot pain include injuries, overuse, improper footwear, arthritic conditions, common diseases, and lifestyle factors.

Traumatic Foot Injuries

Typical injuries that cause foot pain include:

This common ankle injury occurs when you twist, turn, or roll your ankle beyond the limit of the ligaments that stabilize the joint. A sprained ankle can usually be treated at home with simple rest and ice to reduce swelling, if present. Severe ankle sprains may require medical attention.

This common injury occurs when the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscle to the heel, is partially or completely torn. This may result from running or playing sports. People over 30 are more susceptible to this injury.

When the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed or irritated, this is known as Achilles tendonitis, which may be very painful. People who run and compete in vigorous sports such as basketball, tennis, hockey, and distance running are more likely to develop this condition, which may become chronic if left untreated.

Often referred to as a “broken foot,” “broken ankle,” or a “broken toe,” fractures in the feet, toes, or ankle result in severe pain and usually prevent sufferers from bearing weight on the affected area. A fracture should be treated immediately at the nearest emergency room.

When tendons and ligaments are stretched beyond their range of motion, they may tear partially or completely. The most often location of tendon and ligament tears in the foot and ankle include the Achilles tendon, the posterior tibial tendon, the peroneal tendon, and the Lisfranc ligament.

Foot and ankle injuries that don’t heal properly may lead to arthritic conditions and additional problems. Always see a medical professional after experiencing an injury to minimize lifelong damage to the surrounding joints and muscles.

Painful Foot Conditions

Wearing improper footwear, suffering an injury, or simply overworking your feet may cause the following conditions:

This condition produces sharp pain on the bottom of the foot, especially in the heel. It may be caused by wearing inadequate footwear or carrying excessive weight.

Often associated with plantar fasciitis, a heel spur is a calcium deposit underneath the heel. This may be caused by repeated tearing of the membrane that encloses the heel, muscle or ligament strains, or stretching of the plantar fascia.

A major cause of pain in the ball of the foot is Morton’s neuroma. The pain in the ball of the foot may be sharp, burning, and be associated with numbness in the toes. This may result from a running injury or improper footwear.

Often called “fallen arch,” flat foot or flat feet may be congenital (present at birth), or may develop over time, not necessarily from shoe wear choice. Flat foot may or may not be painful.

Hammer toe is a noticeable, awkward bend in the middle joint of a toe, and mallet toe is a deformity of the joint closest to the toenail. Both conditions usually occur in the second, third, and fourth toes.

A bunion is a lump that forms at the base of the big toe. This condition is often hereditary, regardless of shoe wear choice.

A corn is a thick, hardened layer of skin often found on weight-bearing sections of the foot.

This foot condition may be the result of cancer treatment, diabetes, or nerve injury or compression in the leg, including radiculopathy, sciatica, tarsal tunnel, and foot drop. Symptoms of neuropathy include a loss of sensation and burning in the feet, seemingly without a cause.

Arthritic Foot Conditions

The most common arthritic conditions that cause ankle and foot pain include:

The most common type of arthritis in the foot and ankle, post-traumatic arthritis occurs many years after an injury to the foot and ankle, and results in degenerative cartilage damage, joint pain, and stiffness.

Osteoarthritis results from normal wear and tear, overuse, and aging. In this condition, the protective cartilage between the bones deteriorates, causing bones in the feet, toes, or ankles to rub against each other, which leads to pain, stiffness, and inflexibility.

Commonly referred to as “R.A.,” this chronic autoimmune disorder is characterized by inflammation and damage to the cartilage in the feet, toes, and ankles. This damage leads to swelling, stiffness, bone erosion, and pain, which can be disabling.

Common Foot Diseases & Conditions

Common diseases and conditions that can cause foot and ankle pain include:

Both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors can form lumps in the bone or soft tissue of the foot, toe, or ankle. Tumors may or may not be painful, but seek medical care as soon as possible for a diagnosis.

This condition occurs when your foot is exposed to extreme cold for a prolonged period of time, and can cause the skin and below tissues to freeze. This results in pain, loss of sensation, and hardening of the skin and tissues. Mild forms of frostbite can be treated with gradual warming of the affected area. Severe cases may require amputation of the affected area.

This common disorder can lead to diabetic neuropathy, which often causes burning pain in the feet, often at night, and loss of sensation. This can lead to painful ulcers on the feet. Failure to seek treatment can result in infection and loss of feeling in the foot or ankle. In advanced cases where infections become severe, toe or foot amputation may be necessary.

This metabolic and inflammatory condition causes swelling, pain, and redness in the ankle, foot, or at the base of the big toe, and can cause pain and prevent the joint from bending.

Learn more about conditions that cause foot, ankle, or heel pain.

Ankle & Foot Pain Diagnosis

Our orthopedic specialists may begin by ordering specific imaging tests for your foot, including:

  • X-rays
  • CT scans
  • Ultrasounds
  • MRIs

We will also review your medical history, ask about your daily activities, and perform a detailed examination of your foot and ankle and the surrounding muscles, tendons, and joints to diagnose the cause of your pain, and determine which treatment plan will work best for you.

Non-surgical Treatments

Depending on your diagnosis, our orthopedic specialists usually begin with conservative treatment options that don’t require surgery. Non-surgical treatment options include:

  • Padding / orthotics
  • Bracing
  • Casting
  • Splinting
  • NSAIDs
  • Injection therapy
  • Physical therapy

Surgical Treatments

Surgical treatment options include:

  • Fracture fixation
  • Arthroscopy, a minimally invasive procedure to repair soft tissue
  • Tendon or ligament repair
  • Toe realignment for arthritis, bunions, and hammer toes 
  • Foot realignment for flat feet or a deformity, or possible bone fusion
  • Ankle realignment for arthritis or a traumatic injury, or possible bone fusion
  • Amputation

Schedule an Appointment to Relieve Your Ankle or Foot Pain

If you’re experiencing foot or ankle pain, contact the orthopedic team at Bassett Healthcare Network by calling (607) 547-3652. We will diagnose the cause of your pain and review treatment plans based on your preference and personal needs.

Bassett Healthcare Network’s orthopedic specialists and podiatrists offer noninvasive and minimally invasive foot and ankle pain treatments in Central New York, including Herkimer, Cobleskill, Cooperstown, Oneonta, and Delhi.