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Roaring Fork Valley | Glenwood Springs | Chiropractor

​​​​​​​​​​Ankle & Foot Pain

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​​​Common Causes Of Ankle & Foot Pain

Plantar Fasciitis 
Tissue on the bottom of the foot connecting the heel to the toes becomes inflamed from overuse.  It causes sharp pain near the heel which is usually the worst in the morning.  The plantar fascia acts as a shock absorber for the arch of the foot.  Repetitive wear and tear results in damage to the tissue.  There are 33 tissues in the foot which can cause pain.  Plantar fasciitis is a general diagnosis of pain in the heel area, lacking specificity.  

Achilles Tendonitis
An inflammatory and degenerative condition of the achilles tendon.  As the situation worsens from overuse, the pain gradually develops from dull to sharp, localized to the tendon.  Pain is the worst in the morning and after activity.  As the tendon degenerates, the tendon thickens and becomes weaker.  Due to the degenerative process, 97% of achilles tendon ruptures are predictable and preventable with proper treatment.

Metatarsalgia
A general term for pain in the ball of the foot.  It is caused by excessive pressure and altered mechanics of the foot, stressing the ball of the foot.  Pain can vary from dull to sharp depending on the degree of inflammation/irritation and the amount of overuse.  Symptoms can either be short term, recurrent, or chronic.  Several structures connect to the ball of the foot and can be responsible for pain here.

Ankle Sprain:
Ankle sprains are damage to the small ligaments of the joint.  They occur most often from trauma (twisting, falling, etc.).  Swelling, tenderness, and pain with load are common.  As the sprain heals, scar tissue (adhesion) develops in the ligaments, reducing mobility and stability of the ankle joint in the future.  It’s critical to restore movement of the ankle to avoid future injury and reduce the risk of joint degeneration

Calf Strains
A strain is tearing of a muscle which ranges from partial to complete.  Tight calf muscles and repetitive/overuse put excessive stress on these muscles, eventually causing them to tear.  Healthy muscle only strains under extreme load (trauma), indicating overuse as the most common cause.  Overuse and trauma are the two ways to develop adhesion which makes muscles weaker and less flexible.

Adhesion, Mobility, & Foot/Ankle Pain

The lower leg, ankle, and foot are all deeply connected.  ‘Calf’ and ‘shin’ muscles attach to the foot, crossing the ankle joint, aiding in the prominent movements of dorsiflexion and plantarflexion.  A healthy leg-ankle-foot can ​​​dorsiflex/plantarflex fully, easily, and pain-free.  Every step, jump, and squat uses these structures, making adhesion development common.  Limited ankle mobility alters mechanics increasing the risk of pain, injury, and degeneration.

Adhesion is connective tissue that acts like glue int he body limiting flexibility and strength.  Adhesion primarily causes limited dorsiflexion/plantarflexionFixing adhesion restores movement and healthy mechanics, effectively reducing injury risk.  If you experience leg, ankle, or foot pain, your first step should be testing these ranges of motion.


Below are two videos demonstrating how to test yourself for limited ankle mobility.  
If these tests are limited, difficult, or painful, we can help.  

Is limited mobility causing your foot or ankle pain?
Test Yourself

Dorsiflexion

Plantarflexion

  • Scissor stance: testing the front leg
  • Use a ruler to measure
  • Drop hips to bend knee towards wall
  • Heel on floor, knee on wall: max distance 
  • Healthy/full mobility: 6+ inches/leg

  • Do ​NOT attempt with knee pain
  • On your knees, slowly sit back on your heels
  • Heels and butt should touch
  • Full mobility: no space between leg, ankle & floor
  • (+) Test: space, difficulty, or pain

These are only general tests of ankle mobility.  They do not establish a diagnosis.

Patient Testimonial

I visited numerous doctors and physical therapists to resolve the pain in the balls of my feet. Nothing really helped until I went to Dr Holen. He worked to improve the range of motion in my calves and ankles and gradually the pain resolved. Now I can get back on the tennis court! I am so thankful to have been introduced to Dr Holen.

Chrstina C.

Ankle & Foot Pain Relief

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