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What can cause ankle or foot pain?

Pain in the foot and ankle might simply be just that; pain originating in the feet and ankles. There are many things that can cause this pain. Poor foot mechanics (walking incorrectly), poor shoe choices (heels, flip-flops, or other non-supportive footwear), unbalanced gait (walking in an unbalanced manner) or increased activity levels may all lead to pain in the area of the top of the foot, arch of the foot, inner or outer ankle, heel, ball of the foot, base of toes, or the inner or outer edges of your feet.  Any sudden increase in running or jumping activities may also place excessive strain on the ankle joint which may lead to temporary pain.  These levels of pain are typically considered tolerable, however long periods without treatment can lead to greater discomfort.

Why do I feel ankle or foot pain?

When pain doesn’t follow activity levels or any recent trauma, ankle pain typically points to a much more substantial problem.  Pain in the ankle can directly relate to strain in the muscles of the lower leg and thigh, poor hip mobility and potentially could indicate nerve damage in the lower spine.

How is ankle or foot pain related to my spine?

How can ankle or foot pain come from the spine?  The nerves that allow you to move the muscles of the foot and feel sensation from the skin that wraps around your foot originate from the spine.  The nerves leave the spine on each side, (right on the right, left on the left), travel through the gluteus musculature (your butt), down between all the muscles of the hamstring area (back of the thighs), across the back of the knee, under the calf muscle (the muscular part below the back of your knee, but above your ankle and heel), around the ankle (sciatic divisions travel across the inner ankle, tibial divisions along the outer ankle), then these pain signals from your ankles are sent back up to your brain to allow you to perceive (or feel) foot or ankle pain. Think of your nerves as the electricity that connects throughout your body. Like any circuit, it must be in a closed completed system to function. Your nerves originate from your spine and are spread out all across your body in a network of circuits that send signals to the brain to help you feel pain.

How do Chiropractors, Personal Trainers, Doctors, and Physical Therapists work together reduce occurrence of ankle or foot pain?

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On a more complex level, poor body motility (poor body movement) can also create these pain levels.  Our bodies are meant to move in particular ways.  This is why posture is particularly important.

Personal Trainers are excellent resources who can help people to exercise safely and with proper form. They are important parts of your overall care team that can help you avoid injury by assisting you in maintaining essential basic muscle functionality.

A Physical Therapist (PT) can help patients regain proper movement after trauma or surgeries.  The way the body moves can either help or hinder muscle development. Learning the proper way to move and hold your body posture can improve your overall health and well-being.

How can my walking pattern create ankle or foot pain?

When indicated, a chiropractor could perform a gait analysis (a review of your walking pattern). I may also do a standing weightbearing analysis (reviewing with an electronic system how you distribute your weight while standing normally). During this analysis I can show you a colored heat map of your natural weightbearing tendencies to show you if you are more likely to bear weight on your toes, heels, or on the inner or outer edges of your foot.

If I spent a couple months walking on the outside of my feet rather than down the center of my foot, the muscles and tissues of my lower leg, knee, thigh and hip would all have to accommodate. Pain related to movement will be felt at the weakest link.  If you have poor mobility in the spine, poor walking form will cause muscles and joints to strain but the body might naturally accommodate every place in between the foot and spine, before becoming painful; but those joints in the lower spine are already strained, and are highly likely to start to hurt first. Sometimes that “weakest link” is the bones of the foot, muscles surrounding the ankle, tissues of the knee, or muscles in the pelvis.

How can a Chiropractor help my ankle or foot pain?

As a chiropractor, I have received extensive training to not only detail the pain where it is being experienced, but also to understand the body on a level that allows me to expertly determine the source (or origin) of the pain.  While this is remarkably easy for a sprained ankle, or a stubbed toe, conditions like radiculitis (Why does my arm hurt?) or inhibited gluteus maximus can be much trickier to diagnose effectively.

Proper manipulation of the spine and associated soft tissues of the pelvis typically decrease symptoms.  My care routines also include therapeutic exercises to rebuild the strength in the area of pain generation.  Not only does this mean treatment may resolve your pain, but a complete treatment plan at Herrington Family Chiropractic may prevent pain from reoccurring.

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