Foot Sprains and Strains
Given the amount of time we spend on our feet and the work they have to do to support our body weight it’s no wonder problems can occur. Here is my guide to the most common of these.
The Achilles tendon is the large tendon at the back of the leg that connects the calf muscle to the heel. It gives you the power to push off the ground when walking and running and injury occurs through overuse or through making sudden sharp movements like jumping. This is why those affected by Achilles Tendonitis are quite often runners and other athletes. When the tendon becomes injured it causes pain, inflammation and sometimes degeneration of the tendon. Symptoms can range from fairly mild pain and stiffness at the back of the ankle (chronic) to severe pain which prevents you from walking properly (acute). A proper diagnosis may involve an MRI or Ultrasound scan before treatment is started.
If an acute Achilles tendon injury occurs the first thing to do is apply an ice pack and rest; repeat the ice application for 10 minutes every hour for two to three days. Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve pain. In the case of a more severe injury your GP or physiotherapist will decide on treatment which could include a series of strengthening exercises.
This is the name given to pain that affects the ball of the foot. If you’re overweight or have arthritis, or perform high-impact sports whilst wearing unsupportive footwear, you may be at risk of developing Metatarsalgia. This is something that builds up over a period of time and symptoms may include a burning sensation, shooting pain, tingling or numbness, or the feeling of having a pebble in the shoe. Either way it’s a very uncomfortable condition but it does get better over time.
The treatment includes rest and ice pack application initially along with paracetamol or ibuprofen. For long term relief try using shock-absorbing insoles and wear flat, supportive shoes for a while. If you’re overweight then losing weight will certainly help to relieve pressure on your feet. If your symptoms fail to improve or if the pain worsens then consult your GP. They may refer you to a podiatrist or to hospital for specialist treatment.
This is also inflammation of the tendons. In this case, those that run along the top of the foot and help you to straighten and flex your toes. When this inflammation occurs you will feel pain along the top of the foot. Extensor tendonitis is usually caused by overuse but can also be attributed to badly fitting or tightly laced shoes. This is because too much pressure is exerted on the top of the foot and that can cause the tendon to become inflamed. The obvious way to prevent this then is to choose shoes which fit properly – take advice on choosing running shoes – and don’t overdo the exercise.
Initial management of the problem involves the usual – ice pack application, painkillers and rest. For severe and lasting pain, see your GP to rule out a fracture then begin gentle exercises as advised.