Understanding Foot and Ankle Pain


Of course, I’m prone to injuries and Dr. Alex Jimenez has been helping me. I’ve known him for about six years and every time something comes up, either it’s a small injury or a major one, he’s always been there and he’s always helped me get back to my feet to start playing sports again really fast.

Madison Hill

Ankle pain refers to any type of pain or discomfort in the ankle. This pain could generally be due to an injury, such as a sprain, or due to another health issue. As stated by the National University of Health Sciences, or NUHS, an ankle sprain is one of the most frequent causes of foot pain, making up 85 percent of all ankle injuries. A sprain occurs when the ligaments tear or are overstretched.

Most ankle sprains are lateral sprains, which occur when the foot rolls, causing the ankle to twist toward the ground. This action rips or stretches the ligaments, which connect two bones or cartilages and holds a joint together. A sprained ankle often swells and lumps for a temporary amount of time. However, it might take a couple of weeks to get a severe injury like this to heal completely.

Once healed, the sprained ankle is occasionally permanently weaker and less stable compared to the other ankle. According to a paper released by the American Academy of Family Physicians, or AAFP, the highest risk for ankle sprains includes a previous ankle sprain. Although, ankle sprains are not the only cause of foot pain. Below, we will discuss several common causes of foot and ankle pain as well as their treatment.

Causes of Ankle and Foot Pain

The ankle is a hinge joint formed by the assembly of three bones: the tibia, the fibula, and the talus. The bony knobs on both sides are called the malleoli. Overall, the ankle is an intricate structure. These constructions provide support for walking and standing. Also, stability is provided by the ligaments on the surface of the ankle. Additionally, some tendons also attach to the muscles of the ankle.

Ankle pain may be brought on by various ailments, such as sprain, strain, arthritis, gout, and tendinitis, among others. These kinds of injuries can occur on both sides of the joint. There can be pain and discomfort as well as swelling. A sprain is considered to be the most frequent cause of foot pain. As mentioned above, a sprain is generally caused when the ankle rolls or twists so the ankle moves toward the ground, tearing or overstretching the ligaments of the ankle that hold the bones together.

An x-ray is typically done to rule out a fracture. The remedy for an ankle strain or sprain generally includes restricting the total amount of weight-bearing on the ankle, getting rest and applying ice. Drugs and/or medications can reduce symptoms. Chiropractic care can also help diagnose and treat ankle sprains and strains. Ankle and foot pain may also be due to:

  • Arthritis, specifically osteoarthritis,
  • Gout
  • Tendinitis
  • Nerve injury or disease, such as sciatica
  • Blocked blood vessels
  • Infection from the joint

While ankle strains and sprains are the most common form of foot pain, arthritis can also frequently lead to ankle pain. Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints, although multiple kinds of arthritis may lead to pain in the joints. Foot pain can be caused by three common forms of arthritis: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition where the cartilage slowly begins to wear away. Osteoarthritis causes the natural wear and tear of the joints associated with age. Older adults are more inclined to develop osteoarthritis. In most cases, an individual’s pain and discomfort, including swelling and stiffness, among other symptoms may worsen over time.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease. This health issue may severely impact the foot and ankle joints. With rheumatoid arthritis, the human body’s immune cells attack the synovium covering the foot joints. Joint deformity is common with rheumatoid arthritis. A fungal or bacterial infection causes septic arthritis. If the septic arthritis is among the ankle regions, this may result in foot pain.

Following an injury, post-traumatic arthritis can develop from trauma or damage to the ankle or foot. Previous fractures and dislocations are the most common ailments that may lead to post-traumatic arthritis. Like gout, which we will discuss further below, the joints begin to wear away, although it may take several years for this to happen after the injury.

Gout occurs when uric acid accumulates in the human body. This higher than average concentration of uric acid, which is generally a by-product of the human body’s normal breakdown of older cells, can deposit crystals in the joints, causing sharp pain. Pseudogout is a similar illness where calcium deposits build up in the joints. Indicators of gout and pseudogout include soreness, swelling, and redness.

Tendinitis is a swelling of the tendon. In the ankle, it may frequently involve the anterior tibial tendon or the Achilles tendon. Tendinitis can result from an overuse injury or disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. All types of tendinitis trigger pain, inflammation, and tenderness. Drugs and/or medications, applying ice and immobilizing the region are often the first line of treatment for tendinitis. Chiropractic care can also be helpful in the treatment of tendinitis. Casting may be required if the patient’s tendinitis is severe or advanced.

Foot pain can commonly occur due to ankle injuries. In the United States alone, approximately 2 million acute ankle sprains occur every year, one of the most prevalent causes of ankle pain. Chiropractic care is a popular alternative treatment option which can help treat a variety of health issues, including foot and ankle pain.

Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T.

Chiropractic Care for Foot and Ankle Pain

Chiropractors utilize a mixture of treatment techniques and methods to ease ankle and foot pain. Chiropractic care is a safe and effective, alternative treatment option which focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of a variety of injuries and conditions associated with the musculoskeletal and nervous system, including foot and ankle pain.

Soft tissue and joint mobilizations are done to restore proper mechanics and muscle activation. Manual therapy may be used to improve the mobility of the ankle and foot along with reducing pain. Furthermore, a chiropractor may recommend a series of lifestyle modifications to help promote a faster recovery process. Exercises are targeted to the areas that were affected. Balance training might also be implemented.

Some treatment modalities that chiropractors utilize to treat injuries to the foot and ankle include ultrasound, electrical stimulation, heat and ice treatment, and massage. These treatment methods increase circulation to enhance recovery, decrease inflammation, reduce pain and improve mobility. When you visit a healthcare professional, a full evaluation is done, goals are discussed along with an individualized treatment program which is intended to target your specific treatment requirements.

Home Treatment for Ankle and Foot Pain

For immediate at-home treatment of foot and ankle pain, the RICE system is generally recommended. The RICE treatment includes:

  • Rest: Avoid putting weight on the ankle. Try to move as little as possible for the first couple of days. If you have to walk or run, consider using a cane or crutches.
  • Ice: Begin by putting a bag of ice in your ankle for a minimum of 20 minutes at a time. Repeat this three to five times every day for three days. This treatment helps decrease pain. Give yourself about 90 minutes between sessions.
  • Compression: Wrap your injured foot with an elastic bandage, such as an ACE bandage. Don’t wrap it too tightly to where your feet turn blue or your ankle becomes numb.
  • Elevation: Whenever possible, keep your ankle raised over heart level on a pile of pillows or another type of support arrangement to promote healing.

It’s possible to take over-the-counter drugs and/or medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to relieve swelling and pain, however, these are often only offer temporary relief from the symptoms. Make sure to talk to a certified and qualified healthcare professional regarding any home treatment options to prevent further injury and symptoms.

If you are suffering from foot pain or ankle pain, do not delay anymore. Chiropractors can help patients who suffer from foot, and ankle pain and they can help you, too. The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic as well as to spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .

Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez

Additional Topics: Acute Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most prevalent causes of disability and missed days at work worldwide. Back pain is attributed to the second most common reason for doctor office visits, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections. Approximately 80 percent of the population will experience back pain at least once throughout their life. The spine is a complex structure made up of bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles, among other soft tissues. Because of this, injuries and/or aggravated conditions, such as herniated discs, can eventually lead to symptoms of back pain. Sports injuries or automobile accident injuries are often the most frequent cause of back pain, however, sometimes the simplest of movements can have painful results. Fortunately, alternative treatment options, such as chiropractic care, can help ease back pain through the use of spinal adjustments and manual manipulations, ultimately improving pain relief.

EXTRA IMPORTANT TOPIC: Ankle Sprain Chiropractic Treatment

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Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Understanding Foot and Ankle Pain" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

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We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*


Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN*) in Florida
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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