Our feet and ankles are exposed to stress and strain every single day, so it’s not uncommon for people to suffer what appears to be a mild injury. You might not think much of it because symptoms aren’t all that severe and you can still go about your day, but for certain conditions, ignoring the problem can make the issue much worse. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at five foot and ankle conditions that tend to return or get worse unless you proactively treat the issue.
Five Foot Problems That Warrant Your Attention
If you’re dealing with any of these foot conditions, you should take a moment and really develop a care plan to help treat the problem. We’re not saying that you always need to head to a specialist’s office if you are working to overcome one of these conditions, but concentrated treatment will help the problem resolve and decrease your likelihood of a future flare up or worsening symptoms. Here’s five foot and ankle conditions you’ll want to treat head-on.
- Ankle Sprains – Ankle sprains are one of the most common foot and ankle injuries, with tens of thousands of Americans rolling their ankles each and every day. Many of these injuries are mild, but the underlying cause of injury is a loss of ligament stability caused by trauma or stress to the area. If you don’t work to strengthen these ligaments, your ankle can remain unstable, leaving you much more susceptible to a future sprain. If instability rears its ugly head at the wrong time, that sprain could easily become a fracture, which could require surgery or months of rehab. Don’t just walk off an ankle sprain – treat it.
- Gout – Gout is an inflammatory form of arthritis caused by the build of urate crystals in your joints. It oftentimes develops in your ankle or the big toe joint, and these urate acid crystals are a byproduct of food production. Eating a diet full of red meat and seafood or consuming a lot of alcohol or sugary drinks can lead to more urate acid crystals in your body. If you don’t change your dietary habits or get regular exercise, you’re bound to have more gout attacks.
- Bunions – Bunions are a type of foot injury that you really can’t reverse once they’ve set in. You can take conservative steps to mitigate symptoms and prevent further shifting of the big toe joint, but you’re not going to be able to shift the joint back into its original location without surgery. Again, that’s not saying that you’ll absolutely need surgery to correct your bunion, but an operation is likely in your future if you don’t change your footwear or work to slow or stop movement at the joint. Many bunion symptoms can be controlled with conservative treatments, but going about your business as usual is a recipe for further shifting, more severe symptoms and less successful conservative interventions.
- Hammertoe – Hammertoe is similar to a bunion in that it’s much easier to treat and control an issue when the joint has just started to become affected. Wearing shoes that are too tight can force our toe joints upwards, and this ends up shortening the supportive soft tissues in the area. Not treating flexible hammertoes will cause them to become rigid, which like bunions, means treatment will be less effective unless you pursue an operation. Even if your toes aren’t painful, if you notice that they are bending upwards at the joint when barefoot, reexamine your footwear choices.
- Plantar Fasciitis – Finally, plantar fasciitis is a problem that involves the thickening of a band of tissue on the underside of your foot that connects your heel to your toe. You need to work to proactively calm this irritation, otherwise prolonged inflammation can lead to microtears and other damage to the plantar fascia. Over an extended period, this can put you at risk of a ruptured plantar fascia, which requires much more invasive treatment. Working with a physical therapist or a foot specialist can help to resolve this inflammation and get you back to the activities you love without discomfort.
So if you are dealing with any of these conditions, make sure you are treating them head-on with a specific conservative treatment plan or with the help of a foot and ankle specialist. In the Hartford area, we hope you’ll choose Dr. McDonald and his team a call today at (860) 244-8889.