Physiotherapy for Foot and Ankle Injuries

Introduction

Foot and ankle injuries are among the most common injuries assessed and treated by sports physiotherapists. The foot and ankle are important for supporting body weight, providing balance, absorbing shock, walking, running and kicking. The majority of the injuries seen by our Brisbane sports physiotherapists are sprains and strains of the ankle and its ligaments. In addition to acute injures, the physios at Anytime Physio also treat plantar fasciitis / fasciopathy, Achilles tendinitis / tendinopathy and At Anytime Physio, we are experienced in assessing and diagnosing a whole range of foot and ankle injuries, from common through to complex.

Anatomy of the Foot and Ankle

The foot and ankle are a complex system made of 28 bones, 33 joints and 112 ligaments. It is controlled by 34 muscles, 21 of which are in the foot (i.e. intrinsic muscles) and 13 are extrinsic. The foot can be subdivided into the rearfoot, midfoot and forefoot.

Watch the video below to learn more about the bony anatomy of the foot and ankle.

Common Conditions of the Foot and Ankle

The foot and ankle are designed with weight bearing, walking and running as their main functions. They bear the full weight of the body and manage tasks such as sudden change of direction in sports like football and rugby, and jumping and landing in sports like basketball and netball. Injuries and pain in the foot and ankle include:

  • Fractures
    • Ankle fractures
      • Medial malleolus fractures
      • Lateral malleolus fractures
      • Posterior malleolus fractures
    • Foot fractures
    • Stress fractures
  • Ligament tears
  • Nerve injuries and Morton’s Neuroma
  • Ankle sprains
  • Achilles tendinopathy / tendinitis
  • Plantar fasciopathy / fasciitis
  • Plantar heel spurs
  • Retrocalcaneal bursitis
  • Metatarsalgia
  • Turf toe
  • Bunions
  • Foot and ankle osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

How Do Physios Treat Foot and Ankle Pain?

Assessment of the Foot and Ankle

As you can see from the list above, there are many potential reasons for foot and ankle pain. Because of the many potential causes of pain, there are many potential avenues for physiotherapy treatment for foot and ankle pain.

Your physio will always thoroughly examine you to rule out any red flags. These red flags are signs and symptoms that might indicate a more serious condition. If needed, you will be referred for scans (x-rays, ultrasounds and MRIs) and any further tests required to rule out these red flags.

Once you have been cleared of any red flags, your physio will perform a series of tests to assess the bones, joints, cartilage, muscles, tendons and ligaments of the foot and ankle. This will help your physiotherapist diagnose your condition.

Treatment of the Foot and Ankle

The best treatment method will depend on the specific diagnosis. In most cases, sprains and strains will be managed initially with a combination of taping or bracing, soft tissue massage and ice for swelling and some gentle range of motion exercises. As treatment progresses, your physiotherapist will guide you through a series of evidence-based strength, flexibility and balance exercises to help you get your ankle ready for running and sport.

Apart from sports injuries, our physiotherapists are also experienced in managing chronic conditions such as plantar fasciitis / fasciopathy and Achilles tendinitis / tendinopathy. Your physio will look at strength and flexibility of the legs and prescribe exercises and stretches to help you recover. Dry needling can also be used to help stimulate healing in the foot and ankle.

Need Help With Your Foot and Ankle Pain?

Book an appointment online with one of our expert Brisbane physiotherapists.

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Anytime Physio now offers small group exercise classes at our Gasworks clinic in Newstead. We have classes to suit all fitness levels, including Reformer Pilates, Men’s Flexibility and Senior’s Strength and Balance classes.

Health fund rebates apply. Classes start at only $32 per class.