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Pro Care Physiotherapy & Athletes' Injury Center
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Address: 460 W Hunt Club Rd Unit 102A, Nepean, ON K2E 0B8

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Ankle and Foot Conditions

Ankle and Foot Explained

The ankle is a large joint consisting of three bones.

  • The shin bone (Tibia)
  • The thinner bone that runs next to the tibia (Fibula)
  • A foot bone that sits above the heel (Talus)

The ankle joint allows up-and-down movement of the foot. Another smaller joint, called the subtalar joint, found below the ankle joint, is what allows the side-to-side motion of the foot. Many ligaments surround the ankle and subtalar joints. These ligaments bind different bones together.

The feet are structures consisting of bones, joints, muscles, and soft tissues that let us stand upright and perform activities like walking, running and jumping. The Achilles tendon is what connects the heel to the calf muscle and is essential when you are running, jumping or even standing on your toes.

Ankle and Foot Conditions

There are many possible injuries that can occur to the foot and ankle including:


Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick fibrous tissue that goes from the heel to the toes. Inflammation and pain is caused when the plantar fascia is overly stretched and overused causing tiny tears in its surface.

A number of factors contribute to this condition. However you are most likely to suffer from this condition as you age or if you:

  • Are overweight
  • Increase your level of exercise or take up a new exercise
  • Are on your feet for a prolonged time period
  • Tend to wear high-heeled shoes, and then switch abruptly to flat shoes
  • Have flat feet or a high arch
  • Have a tight Achilles tendon

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Heel Spurs

A heel spur is a bony growth in the heel, which may cause severe pain during walking or standing. An x-ray is required to diagnose heel spurs. Some of the causes of bone spurs in the feet are:

  • Tight ligaments
  • Dancing
  • Running
  • Being overweight
  • Poorly fitting shoes
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Flat feet or high arches

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Achilles Tendon Injury

The Achilles tendon stretches from your heel to your calf muscle. It allows you to point your toes to the floor. With Achilles tendon injuries, a person will feel pain in the back of the heel. The pain can be sudden or a nagging daily pain (tendonitis). In a severe Achilles tendon injury, the tendon can tear partially or rupture completely. An injury might be caused by:

  • Overuse
  • Quickly increasing your level of physical activity
  • Not stretching enough before you exercise
  • Wearing high heels
  • Flat feet
  • Tight muscles

A tear in the Achilles tendon often happens when you start moving suddenly, for example at the start of a race. In this case, people may report hearing a snapping or popping noise during the injury, and they may have difficulty flexing their foot or pointing their toes.

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Fallen Arches

Fallen arches, or better known as “flat feet”, are present when the arches of the feet flatten out during standing or walking and can be the cause to other foot problems. Several tendons in your foot and in lower leg work together to form your foot arch. When these tendons do not work properly, then there is little or no arch. Fallen arches in adults might be caused by:

  • An abnormality present from birth
  • Overstretch or torn tendons
  • Injury to the posterior tibial tendon
  • Broken or dislocated bones
  • Health conditions, such rheumatoid arthritis
  • Nerve injury
  • Other factors such as aging, diabetes, obesity, pregnancy

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Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s neuroma is a growth consisting of nerve tissue usually between the third and fourth toe. The nerve that runs between these toes can swell and get thicker and cause the person to feel pain, numbness and burning in the foot. There are several factors linked to this injury, including:

  • Flat feet or high arches
  • High-heeled, tight or narrow shoes

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Sprained Ankle

Ankle sprains are the most common injuries in the ankle. It is an injury to one of the ligaments in your ankle. Although ligaments are flexible, all it takes is a sudden twist for them to overstretch or snap completely. Sprains occur when the foot lands on the ground at an angle or with too much force. Risk factors that increase the likelihood of an ankle sprain are:

  • Previous ankle sprains
  • Walking, running, or playing on uneven surfaces
  • Wearing shoes that do not fit well or do not have good support
  • Playing sports that require a sudden change in direction.

There are 3 grades of sprains. In Grades I and II, the ligaments are overstretched or partially torn. People have mild to moderate pain and swelling. In Grade III, the ligament is completely torn and the ankle becomes unstable. As a result, people have severe pain and swelling.

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Shin Splints

Shin splint is a condition, which causes pain and sometimes swelling on the medial side of the leg (tibia). They occur from repeated pounding on hard surfaces during certain activities. Shin splints can progress from an inflammatory reaction to an actual stress fracture in the bone. There are several factors linked to this injury, including:

  • Running or jogging
  • Activities where you run or jog on hard surfaces such as basketball and tennis
  • New running or workout shoes
  • Shoes with not enough support
  • Running or walking on a different surface than you are used to
  • Working out harder than usual or training too hard or too fast
  • Flat feet

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Can Physiotherapy Help?

Physiotherapists at Pro Care Physiotherapy & Athletes’ Injury Center can help with all foot and ankle conditions after performing a thorough assessment. The treatment may include:

  • Manual therapy to improve movement in your joints
  • Ultrasound, electrotherapy and/or acupuncture to relieve pain, swelling and promote tissue healing
  • An exercise program including strengthening and stretching to progressively return you to your daily and sporting activities
  • Taping to stabilize or support your ankle / foot until your muscles can do the job
  • Suggest orthotics or braces if needed for the injury
  • Massage to promote soft tissue healing and break up of scar tissue

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