Foot injuries are incredibly common due to the fact that we put a lot of stress on our feet every single day. Fortunately, the majority of minor or mild foot injuries can be effectively treated by pursuing conservative treatments. Whether you’re dealing with an ankle sprain, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis or a similar condition, you will likely be able to get back to full health without the need for surgery so long as you pursue a smart treatment plan. But what type of treatment is right for you?
We’re not going to be able to spell out a specific care plan that will work for any and all types of foot injuries, but the treatment format is oftentimes the similar for these mild foot injuries. The best type of treatment typically combines protective and proactive elements. We explain what we mean by this and share some examples of a smart treatment plan in today’s blog.
Protective Foot Injury Treatments
Again, we want to remind you that you will be better served by connecting with a doctor or a foot specialist who can view your injuries in person and develop a treatment plan catered to your individual needs. That said, your doctor will likely move forward with a treatment plan that begins with protective techniques and then quickly transitions to a proactive treatment program.
We often want to be protective with foot injuries for the first 24-72 hours because this is when our body is at its weakest following an injury. Trauma is fresh and the body has not yet had time to adequately start the repair process. Continuing to put stress and strain on the weakened area can significantly increase your risk of additional injury, which is why your doctor will likely recommend that you take it easy in the next couple of days. Some protective/passive treatments that can help to keep additional stress off the area and aid in the recovery process include:
- Activity Modification
- Anti-Inflammatory Medications
- Elevating the foot
All of these techniques help to provide an ideal environment for the foot to start the healing process, but after a few days, these techniques no longer become the best way to help your foot heal. They are passive by nature, and once your foot has recovered from the initial shock of the injury, you need to proactively work to strengthen it so that it can return to a pre-injury level of fitness.
Proactive Foot Injury Treatments
Once given the clearance by your doctor, or once you’ve noticed that symptoms are starting to improve, you’ll want to start pursuing some proactive treatment techniques. These treatments are designed to strengthen muscles, improve soft tissue flexibility and ensure that you can safely handle the stress that you will eventually be putting on your feet. Some of the most common proactive foot injury treatments include:
- Controlled Exercise
- Physical Therapy
- Stretching Techniques
The most frequently recommended technique for minor and mild foot injuries is physical therapy. Performed under the guidance of a physical therapist or by finding a PT routine online, you can safely start to strengthen your feet and push them out of their comfort zone. By gradually taking on greater physical challenges during your PT sessions, you’ll be able to minimize your risk of a setback as a result of overstressing the area. Most patients experience fantastic results after just a few days or weeks.
Finally, it’s important to remember that although you’ve transitioned to the proactive stage of treatment, it doesn’t mean that you need to completely ignore the protective elements. You’ll be taking on more stress and strain during proactive treatments, so pairing these techniques with protective elements can be helpful. Taking a hot bath or using some anti-inflammatory medications after a successful PT session can help enhance your recovery, so know that you should still be pursuing protective treatments when appropriate, but the bulk of your care should be proactive in nature!
For more information about striking the right balance between a protective and proactive treatment plan, reach out to Dr. McDonald and his team today at (860) 244-8889.