Having healthy feet and ankles is vital to ensuring a high quality of life for most people. We use these areas of the body in nearly every activity in our day-to-day lives—-whether it’s standing, walking, driving, and more. Injuries to these areas can have devastating effects on people by limiting their mobility and function
While some can tolerate a minor foot or ankle injury, more severe problems can greatly reduce a person’s quality of life. As experts in musculoskeletal injuries, Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance offers advanced diagnosis and treatment to help patients alleviate symptoms and heal injuries throughout the body.
In this blog, we go in-depth about foot and ankle injuries, how they happen, and how patients can treat their injuries and prevent them in the future. Read on to learn more, or Request an appointment with a highly qualified ankle and foot doctor in Kansas City today!
Foot & Ankle Anatomy
Much like your hand and wrist, your feet and ankles comprise one of the most complex regions of your entire body.
Between an individual foot and ankle, the two combine for 28 bones (26 located within the foot) and 33 ligaments supported by an expansive network of soft tissue. This soft tissue includes nerves, blood vessels, tendons, and over 30 muscles.
Your foot, meanwhile, contains three anatomical sections:
- The hindfoot, which connects to the talus and helps perform complex movements while distributing weight while standing.
- The midfoot, which helps absorb any shock from walking, running, and jumping while acting as the arch of your foot.
- And the forefoot, which carries and balances roughly half of your body weight while also helping with propulsion and more explosive movements—such as running and jumping.
With all of these different parts working together in perfect unison, your feet and ankles act as the foundation of your body. The sheer number of structures within the area makes both the foot and ankle particularly susceptible to injury.
An Overview of Foot & Ankle Injuries
Just about everyone understands how important their feet and ankles are to everyday life, and their importance becomes all the more evident when they experience an injury.
Even relatively minor ailments can make simple tasks like walking and standing nearly impossible. And because your foot and ankle rely on so many different working parts, there is a wide range of injuries one can experience. If you’ve experienced an injury that causes pain, decreased range of motion, or an inability to bear weight through your lower body—you may need a trip to an ankle and foot doctor in Kansas City.
These injuries can fall into one of two different categories: acute or chronic.
Acute Foot & Ankle Injuries
Acute injuries occur as a result of sudden, high velocity or high impact trauma to the area. With feet and ankles specifically, the most common acute injuries tend to be non-contact, often due to a misstep, fall, or an awkward landing after jumping. However, receiving direct impacts from forces like crashes or dropped objects are also relatively common.
While no one is immune to a foot or ankle injury, your activity level certainly influences your overall risk. The more active you are at work or in your free time, the more likely you are to suffer an acute injury.
Athletes frequently deal with acute foot and ankle injuries—due to the sudden motions and explosive moments they perform regularly. In fact, roughly 25% of sports injuries involve this area of the body. These can range from minor injuries like sprained (or rolled) ankles to severe injuries like a torn achilles tendon.
The pain and loss of function you feel from an acute injury will vary based on severity and the structures impacted. Signs that an acute injury has occurred may include:pain, swelling, a visible deformity, or an inability to move or bear weight through your ankle and foot.
Patients experiencing any of these symptoms need to seek immediate treatment from an ankle and foot doctor in Kansas City. Some of the most common acute injuries in this area include
Chronic Foot & Ankle Injuries
Whereas acute injuries occur in a split second, chronic foot and ankle injuries develop and worsen over time. What in many cases starts as tolerable pain turns into more severe symptoms over the course of several months and years. This makes chronic injuries harder to diagnose and potentially dangerous for patients if they don’t notice the early signs.
While you can trace acute injuries to a single instance, chronic injuries tend to come from repeated motions that cause wear and tear to the soft tissue. That degeneration can occur for a variety of reasons. For one, a person may have had a prior injury that didn’t completely heal. This happens particularly often with athletes and others with highly active lifestyles, as they may feel they need to “walk it off” if they have a perceived minor injury.
Another common cause of chronic foot and ankle pain stems from overuse. While these are also common in athletes (such as baseball pitchers or tennis players), overuse injuries can impact people who participate in weight-bearing activities like standing, walking, squatting or running- on a consistent basis.
Wearing ill-fitting, non-supportive shoes or using improper technique when running or working, can contribute to chronic foot and ankle conditions. These can cause repeated stress to tendons, joints, ligaments, and muscles leading to some initial discomfort. When not treated by a qualified ankle and foot doctor in Kansas City, that discomfort can gradually get worse and result in severe pain, deformities, and limited range of motion. Some conditions that can occur as a result include bunions, hammertoe, plantar fasciitis, and more.
Other co-morbid conditions—like diabetes, vascular disease and excess uric acid—can contribute to chronic foot and ankle injuries. These conditions can drastically reduce blood flow to the area and lead to pressure sores on the feet, as well as conditions like gout and diabetic neuropathy.
Additional chronic foot and ankle injuries include:
Treating Foot & Ankle Injuries
As debilitating as foot and ankle injuries can be, the good news is that patients can relieve pain and heal their injuries with effective orthopedic treatment. As a leading orthopedic clinic in Kansas City, KCOA sets itself apart with experienced, compassionate providers and the most advanced treatments and technology.
A treatment process at KCOA starts by meeting with an ankle and foot doctor in Kansas City. After going over your medical history, symptoms, and goals for treatment during your consultation, we’ll perform a physical exam and utilize diagnostic imaging. We’ll then take all of the information gained from these processes to provide a treatment recommendation matching your needs and goals.
Patients will make a collaborative decision on their treatment with their provider and loved ones. The exact foot and ankle treatment we use depends on a number of factors, such as your age, activity level, injury severity, medical history, and desired outcomes. The treatments an ankle and foot doctor in Kansas City can perform include:
- Achilles tendon repair
- Fracture care & management
- Ankle arthroscopy
- Ankle replacement
- Joint fusion procedures
- Hammertoe & bunion correction
- Plantar Fasciitis management
- Physical Therapy
- Minimally invasive foot & ankle management
- Sports medicine treatments
- Physical medicine & rehabilitation
- And orthobiologic treatments
Preventing Foot & Ankle Injuries
While there’s no way to completely eliminate the risk of injuring your foot or ankle, you can take steps to greatly reduce that risk!
A seemingly obvious yet often overlooked measure is to make sure that you have the right shoes. You should ensure that your shoes fit well on your feet and match the activity you perform. And, if necessary, invest in orthotics to make your shoes more comfortable and supportive. Proper fitting shoes will help you decrease the stresses on your feet, decrease your risk for falls and can improve your posture and overall functioning.
Stretching and strength training can also help immensely when it comes to avoiding injuries. Whether you’re playing a game or just getting in your recommended exercise, stretching helps improve your flexibility and range of motion. Meanwhile, strength training can help build up muscle and improve your balance while stabilizing your feet and ankles.
Lastly, people of all lifestyles can benefit from technique improvements and proper nutrition. If you notice that your feet hurt after walking or running—or after explosive movements like jumping—talk to your physician about potential motion changes you can make. From a nutrition standpoint, try to eat healthier meals or take supplements that help improve your bone strength. Nutrients such as vitamin D and calcium are especially beneficial in this regard.
Searching for a Leading Ankle and Foot Doctor in Kansas City? Contact KCOA Today!
At Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance, we make it our mission to create a superior patient experience for all. Regardless of the location or severity of your injury, our team will work with you to ensure the best possible outcome.
Request an appointment with one of our providers to find the best treatment option for your needs. You can also receive a thorough evaluation by calling (913) 319-7600 or by using our symptom tracker tool. If you have any additional questions or comments, feel free to fill out our contact form to get a prompt response from a KCOA representative.