It does not seem often that athletes and workers are mentioned on the same page, but foot problems can be an exception.
Whether you are running trails or running tables, it can add up to a lot of stress on your feet over time. This can result in painful problems often referred to as “sports injuries”—but you don’t always have to be playing sports to experience them.
Even those who spend most of their time in one spot—such as standing on a factory line—can develop stress-related injuries. The key to all of these problems, however, is determining the source of each and addressing it through effective treatment.
Many sources of foot pain—both on the job and on the field—can be divided into two categories: acute and overuse. We will describe each further below, as well as provide some common examples of each.
An acute injury is sustained by a sudden force or impact. This might come from a tackle or collision in sports, or a fall or accident in the workplace.
- Ankle Sprain – This injury occurs when the ligaments that support your ankle are extended beyond their normal limits of motion, often due to a sudden twisting or rolling. Stumbling on an uneven surface or coming down awkwardly from a jump or step are common causes.
- Fracture – A classic broken bone. The injury will very likely need to be immobilized. If the fracture is severe, it may also require surgery to realign the pieces and allow proper healing.
- Achilles Tendon Rupture – An injury more common to hard forces and turns applied on the basketball court and other sports arenas, sudden stress placed upon the Achilles tendon can cause it to tear or outright rupture. Pain is instantaneous and severe, and you will not be able to bear weight upon the foot.
- Turf Toe – This is a sprain of the big toe that tends to happen when your toe is planted but your body continues wanting to move forward. This overextends the ligament of the toe joint.
As opposed to the sudden occurrence of acute injuries, overuse injuries tend to happen due to repetitive stresses over time. This can be the repetitive impacts of your feet hitting the ground while running, or even the force of standing for long periods of time on hard surfaces.
- Plantar Fasciitis – One of the most common causes of heel pain, this injury occurs in the thick band of tissue that runs beneath the foot (plantar fascia). Both repetitive activities and stooping or standing in place for long periods can contribute to this condition.
- Tendinitis – Inflammation and pain caused by continuous stress placed on a tendon. Among the most common in the foot is Achilles tendinitis.
- Stress Fracture – Instead of a fracture through a bone, a stress fracture takes the form of hairline cracks along a bone’s surface. This tends to happen when repetitive impacts weaken the surface of a bone, and it is not allowed enough time to rest and recover.
- Shin Splints – Irritation and swelling of muscles that run along the shin bone; usually a result of overtraining, especially on hard surfaces.
Taking Action to Treat and Prevent
If you have persistent pain of any type in your foot or ankle, do not hold off and just hope it improves. You want to make sure such traumas to your feet and ankles heal properly in order to prevent complications like instability and chronic pain in the future.
We will thoroughly examine your injury, which may also involve diagnostic equipment and asking you questions about the pain, when you tend to experience most, and how it affects your day. All of this information helps us recommend an ideal treatment plan for your needs.
Treatment methods may include many approaches, depending on the injury and conditions surrounding it. They may include:
- Rest from the factors causing the injury, providing better opportunity for healing.
- Icing and elevation, to help reduce pain and swelling.
- Medication – another means of addressing pain or inflammation.
- Changes in equipment. This can range from footwear that is more accommodating to the demands of your sport or job, or even anti-fatigue mats to be placed where you stand most often during workdays. We might also recommend custom orthotics to better distribute weight across your feet and away from strained areas.
- Changes in workouts and techniques. If your current routines or workloads are placing too much repetitive stress on your feet, we may recommend changes to allow your feet and ankles more time to rest. Days with cross-training or lower-impact activities can be helpful for athletes, while changes in work techniques may provide help on the job.
- Stretches and exercises. This includes properly warming up and cooling down before activities, but also includes specific stretches or exercises intended to strengthen and condition supportive areas.
- Advanced treatments, including MLS laser therapy and amniotic injection therapy, that can accelerate healing and reduce pain.
Get the Help You Need to Keep Moving
Whether you are facing pain at work, in sports, or both, find the expert help you need at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute.
Call us at (512) 593-2949 to schedule an appointment at our offices in Cedar Park or Round Rock. Or, if you prefer to contact us electronically, fill out our online contact form and a member of our staff will respond to you during normal office hours.