Little thought is given to the importance of the foot and ankle until an injury or joint condition hinders its ability to get us from point A to point B. For supporting our skeleton and the additional weight we may add to their task over the years, the foot and ankle are to be applauded.
The foot and ankle are essential in sustaining optimal health and achieving the highest quality of life – facilitating an active lifestyle, completing essential tasks and affording us independence and freedom of movement. Understanding the types of problems that can worsen over time and hinder their function is key in maintaining overall health and well-being.
The bones of the ankle and foot are held in place by tendons and ligaments – assisted in movement by intrinsic and extrinsic muscles, which are located in the lower leg and attached to bone in the foot by a long tendon traversing the ankle.
Weight bearing and propulsion are the two main functions of the foot. This requires stability and flexibility. The foot and ankle bones and joints provide a degree of flexibility, though an arch is needed to support weight. Arches depend on bone shapes as well as the surrounding tendons and ligaments.
As a part of the musculoskeletal system on which we rely heavily and use throughout the day….everyday, a number of problems with the foot and ankle can arise. Some problems are the direct result of an accident or awkward twisting, while others develop over time as the result of a changing arch or manner in which we distribute weight – possibly favoring one foot over another after a knee or other leg injury.
An imbalance, either the result of an untreated injury or shift in weight and use of the foot and ankle, can place stress on the ankle joint as well as the muscles, ligaments and tendons of the foot and ankle. Over time friction and inflammation can cause increasing pain and discomfort.
Some of the common foot and ankle injuries and conditions we experience include ankle sprains, Achilles tendonitis and rupture, heel spurs and adult-acquired flat foot syndrome (AAFFS).