Foot and ankle injuries can happen any time: runing, hiking, gym workout, prolonged standing, even aging. The top 5 most common foot and ankle injuries are:

  • Ankle sprain
  • Ankle fracture
  • Peroneal Tendonitis
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Broken Metatarsal

In this article, we will talk about each injury, how it happens, common treatment methods and home remedies, and the differences between these injuries so you know exactly what you’re dealing the next time.

common foot and ankle injuries - ankle sprains
Image Courtesy: The Institute of Athletic Medicine

Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains are one of the most common foot and ankle injuries of all time. A sprained ankle happens when the ligaments in the ankle are stretched or torn due to a sudden twist or turn. Symptoms of a sprained ankle includes pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty walking.

Many things can lead to a sprained ankle. Falling, tripping, or bad running posture may all cause an ankle sprain. Try to avoid walking after the injury happens. If possible, use something cold to control the initial swelling, such as a chilled water bottle.

How Long Does It Take for an Ankle Sprain to Heal

Depending on the severity of your injury, a sprained ankle may take two to six weeks to fully heal. Thankfully, after the initial healing period, you could at least slowly resume your usual activities, as long as you’re not overworking your ankles.

To care for your sprained ankle, follow the R.I.C.E method:

  • Rest: Avoid putting weight on the injured ankle. If you have to walk, try to use your other foot, as well as walls and railings to minimize the burden you’re putting on your injured foot.
  • Ice:  Put an ice pack wrapped in a towel on your injured ankle for 20 minutes at a time every two to three hours during the first 48 to 72 hours.
  • Compression: Wrap the affected ankle with an elastic bandage to help reduce swelling and support the injured joint. However, make sure to use breathable materials to avoid damaging your skin, or remove the wrap regularly so your flesh can breath.
  • Elevation: Elevate your ankle above your heart level to help reduce swelling. When you go to sleep, use a pillow or couch cushion to prop your ankle up.
  • Home Remedy for Sprained Ankle

    Good news: you can usually take care of a sprained ankle by yourself at home, with some remedies passed down through generations. I know, it sounds a bit suspicious. But hey, if it works and saves you a trip to the hospital, why not take some notes?

    Here are some of the most effective home remedies for treating a sprained ankle:

    1. Ginger or turmeric tea: Ginger and turmeric are both highly effective anti-inflammatories. You can use the teabagas found a grocery stores, or simply cut a few slices of fresh ginger and steep them with hot water.
    2. Eucalyptus oil: Eucalyptus oil contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Apply a few drops of eucalyptus oil directly onto your ankle and gently massage it into your skin a few times a day will help you heal faster.
    3. Tiger balm: Ah, the ancient Chinese magic. Jokes aside, tiger balms are highly effective for treating sprained muscles. However, make sure you’ve done the icing for the first 72 hours before putting any tiger balm on your body as the herbs used in the balm will heat your muscles to treat the injury.

    Ankle Sprain vs. Twist

    While many people use the two terms interchangeably, they’re not exactly the same. An ankle sprain is an injury to the ligaments that connect the bones in the ankle joint.

    On the other hand, An ankle twist is a sudden movement that causes the ankle to turn or roll inward or outward. It often leads to a brief loss of balance. While a twisted ankle may feel painful, swelled, and bruised, it rarely involves ligament damage. However, sometimes a twist could cause a sprain.

    Since the RICE methdo works with ankle twist as well, we recommend you to consider that procedure your standard urgent care routine if you feel like “pulled an ankle.”

    ankle fracture
    Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

    Ankle Fracture

    Depending on what force caused the fracture, the injury can range from mild to severe and the latter would require immediate medical attention. Some common causes for a broken ankle include:

    • Abnormal twist: this is one of the most common causes of ankle fractures. If the ankle is twisted or rotated beyond its normal range of motion, the bones in the ankle could break.
    • Direct impact or trauma: a direct blow to the ankle, such as a fall, car accident, or sports injury is another common cause of ankle fracture.
    • Overuse, or repetitive stress: this is usually how ankle fractures happen during long-distance running or jumping sports. Overusage and the repetitive stress has worn your ankle down to the point its easy to break.
    • Weakening of the bones: brittle bones crack and break. This could be due to aging or bone diseases like osteoporosis.

    Signs that You Have a Broken Ankle

    Symptoms of a fractured ankle include dull or sharp pain, swelling, bruising, difficulty bearing weight on the affected foot, losing balance, and deformity or misalignment of the ankle joint.

    Ankle Sprain vs. Fracture

    An sprain is an injury to the ligaments in the ankle joint, while an ankle fracture is a break or crack in one or more of the ankle bones. While both injuries share many symptoms, such as pain and swelling, a broken ankle often present a visible deformity or a misalignment that can be felt with bare hands.

    Ankle sprains recover much faster than ankle fractures. Therefore, if you think you may have broken your ankle, seek medical help immediately so your condition doesn’t worsen.

    Image Courtesy: Recover Athletics

    Peroneal Tendonitis

    Peroneal tendonitis is another common foot and ankle injury where the peroneal tendons, which run along the outside of the ankle, become inflamed and irritated. It’s often caused by

    • Sports or activities
    • Ill-fitted footwear
    • Vulnerable foot and ankle anatomy
    • Previous injury
    • Aging

    Symptoms of peroneal tendonitis include pain, swelling, and tenderness along the outside of the ankle, especially with activity or pressure on the affected area. Some may also experience weakness or instability in the ankle joint since these tendons are responsible for stabilizing the ankle and foot during movement.

    Treatment for Peroneal Tendonitis

    Again, the R.I.C.E method works great for peroneal tendonitis. Depending on the severity, you may also need physical therapy to to strengthen the ankle and improve range of motion. In some cases, your doctor may recommend brace or orthotic for additional ankle support.

    Since peroneal tendonitis is mostly a chronic condition, adjusting your lifestyle is also crucial to fast recovery. For example, you should eat food that can reduce foot and ankle inflammation, incorporate ankle massage into your care routine, and reduce your exercise level until you’re fully healed.

    mayo clinic plantar fasciitis symptom and cause
    Image Courtesy: Mayo Clinic

    Plantar Fasciitis

    Plantar fasciitis one of the most common foot diseases. It causes pain and inflammation in the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, from the heel to the toes.

    Overuse or repetitive strain on the plantar fascia are the key causes of plantar fasciitis as they lead to tiny tears in the tissue, which then cause inflammation. People with flat feet or high arches, overweight individuals, or those with a history of foot or leg injuries are also more prone to the plantar fasciitis.

    Plantar Fasciitis Symptoms

    The most common symptom of plantar fascitiis is pain in the bottom and heel of your foot. Other symptoms include stiffness and aching in the foot. Many patients reported worse pain in the morning or after periods of inactivity, but said it lessened with stretching or walking.

    To find out how to treat plantar fasciitis, check out our article here.

    metatarsal foot anatomy HSS
    Image Courtesy: HSS

    Broken Metatarsal

    Metatarsal are the five long bones that run from the midfoot to the base of the toes. A broken metatarsal can be a painful and disabling injury since you might find walking challenging as you could barely put any weight on the affected foot.

    Symptoms of a broken metatarsal may include pain, swelling, bruising, and tenderness in the affected area. There may also be difficulty moving or bending the toes. Sometimes, your foot may appear deformed or misaligned.

    Common causes of a broken metatarsal include

    • Falling
    • Sports injury
    • Running
    • Jumping
    • Repetitive stress
    • Direct trauma, such as being stepped on
    • Certain medical conditions, such as osteoporosis or bone cancer
    • Brittle bones caused by aging

    How to Treat a Broken Metatarsal

    The doctor usually gives you a cast or walking boot so your bones can heal.  In some cases, surgery may be necessary to realign the broken bone or stabilize it with screws or pins.

    Depending on the severity of the fracture, it may take you several weeks to several months to fully heal from a broken metatarsal. After the initial recovery period, you may need physical therapy to help restore the injured foot’s strength, flexibility, and motion range. Again, injury recovery is a long game and adjusting your diet and lifestyle can make a significant difference.

    Ankle Swelling During Pregnancy

    While not an injury, many women experience foot and ankle pain and swelling during pregnancy. Pregnancy foot pain is caused by a few different factors:

    Edma and Poor Circulation

    Your body produces more blood and fluids during pregnancy to support the growing fetus. However, this can cause swelling in the ankles and feet, which can be painful and uncomfortable. Increased blood volume during pregnancy also put pressure on the veins in the legs and feet, obstructing circulation and cause foot and ankle pain.

    Weight and Posture Change

    As the baby grows and the mother gains weight, there is added pressure on the ankles and feet, which can lead to pain and discomfort. Meanwhile, the center of gravity of the mother's body shifts forward as the fetus devlops and cause changes in posture and increase the strain on the ankles and feet.

    Hormonal changes

    During pregnancy, the body produces higher levels of the hormone relaxin, which can cause the ligaments and joints in the ankles and feet to become more flexible. On the downside, these hormonal changes also makes them more prone to injury and cause pain.

    Treatment for Ankle and Foot Injuries

    If you believe you’ve severely injured your ankle and foot, for example, if you’re completely immobile or your swelling and pain level increased after a few days, go to the doctors. In most cases, foot and ankle injuries do not require surgeries. However, fractured bones or severe muscle injury may call for hospitalization and monitoring.

    Depending on your injury’s severity and recovery, doctors may suggest physical therapy programs to help restore your flexibility and mobility. You can also introduce heat therapy, foot massage, a high-fiber, high-potassium, and high-vitamin diet, or other supportive methods for a faster recovery.

    Can Shiatsu Massage Help With Foot and Ankle Injuries?

    Foot and ankle massages have many benefits. As long as you’re not applying pressure during the initial healing stage (first 48 to 72 hours), shiatsu massages are actually a great way to speed up injury recovery.

    If you’re looking for an ankle and foot massager, check out our MAS 2 shiatsu foot massager. Featuring 360-degree air compression, various massage modes, heat, vibration, and deep tissue shiatsu massage technology, MAS 2 is an adjustable shiatsu foot massager perfect for neuropathy and plantar fasciitis patients. Whether you’ve had a long day of work or suffer from chronic foot pain, MAS 2 will help loosen up your foot, ankle, calf, and leg.

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