We tend to give little thought to our feet… until there is an issue. Even then, most people shrug off most problems and pains as a problem with their shoes or the fact that they exercised of must have hurt it unknowingly at work. This might be the case in a lot of instances. But if we ignore the early warning signs of a foot or ankle problem, we could be setting ourselves up for long-term trouble.

Not only do symptoms tend to get worse when ignore them, but often the success rate of subsequent treatment lessens as conditions become more and more severe. That is why it is so important to treat foot and ankle issues before they escalate. At Ventura Orthopedics, we have surgical, non-surgical and physical therapy options to get you out of pain and back on your feet.

Here are five of the most common foot problems we can help treat that tend to get worse without intervention.

Which Foot Issues Get Worse If They Are Not Treated?

There are a number of foot problems that only tend to get worse unless they are proactively treated with some conservative options. Here is a look at five of the most common foot problems that tend to get worse without intervention.

  • Bunions 

A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. It occurs when some of the bones in the front part of your foot move out of place. Bunions are extremely common because they are often the result of ill-fitting shoes. In particular, high heels and narrow-toed shoes are notorious for putting abnormal stress on the front of your feet. This altered stance can lead to a shift in the location of your big toe joint. Left untreated, stress will continue to displace the big toe joint and more pain will follow. Switching shoes and conducting some foot strengthening exercises can prevent continued shifting and reduce or eliminate symptoms.

  • Hammertoes 

Hammertoes are so named because the toe resembles a hammer when the joint is stuck in an upward position. This deformity can cause pain and difficulty walking, and a corn or callus may appear on top of the joint. A hammertoe happens when the muscles and ligaments around your toe joint get out of balance. This makes the middle joint of your toe buckle and get stuck in this position. You are most likely to see hammertoe in your middle three toes. Toes that curl are also hammertoes. If your hammertoe is severe, you may have surgery to correct it. It may be an option if your pain has gotten very bad, your toe is very rigid, or you have an open sore because of your hammertoe. 

  • Ankle Sprains 

The pain from an ankle sprain may fade over time, even without targeted treatment, but a problem could be lurking underneath the surface. Moderate or severe ankle sprains can cause ligament stretching and damage, and that can put you at a heightened risk for future ankle sprains. If your ankle feels unstable or you find that your ankle is rolling more frequently following a previous ankle injury, talk to a foot specialist about strengthening these injured ankle ligaments.

  • Plantar Fasciitis 

Plantar fasciitis is categorized by inflammation of the thick band of tissue that runs on the underside of your foot from your heel to your toes. This condition requires targeted treatment to alleviate the issue. Continuing normal activity will not settle the inflammation, and prolonged inflammation can damage the tissue and leave you more susceptible to tearing. Stretching exercises and activity modification can all help to protect the area as it heals and you go about your day, but we also offer more specific treatments for those who need it.

  • Ankle Arthritis 

Ankle joint degeneration cannot be reversed. That being said, you should never ignore the symptoms of ankle arthritis. Proactive treatment in the form of physical therapy, weight management and exercise can help to calm symptoms and slow the natural degeneration that our joints experience as we age. You may not be able to turn back the clock, but you can slow further degeneration, which is just as important.

5 Foot and Ankle Symptoms You Should Not Ignore

Whether you are a runner, or simply use your feet to get from one errand to another, ankle and foot problems can change your life. Everyone experiences an ache or pain from time to time, but these are 5 ankle and foot symptoms you should not ignore.

  • Tenderness in the Foot and Ankle

Tenderness in the foot or ankle can be a sign of inflammation. Any time inflammation is present, it simply means that something is injured and the body is trying to heal it. However, tenderness can be a sign of a serious ankle and foot problem as well. Usually, tenderness occurs over the area of an injury. If it lasts more than a few days, it may be a sign of a bigger issue. If the foot and ankle are tender to the touch, and there is swelling, this can be a sign of a strain or a sprain. 

  • Feeling a “POP” with Immediate Pain

If you have ever “rolled” your ankle, you know what this feels like. A pop in the ankle can happen when fibers of a ligament or tendon tear. This is usually followed by swelling in the area. These are symptoms of a sprain or strain in the ankle. Strains and Sprains have different grades of severity based on the amount of movement and laxity there is in the joint after the injury. Only a skilled medical professional can determine the grade or severity of a sprain or strain. 

Feeling a pop can also be a sign of a fracture in one or more bones in the ankle or foot. A fracture usually makes it difficult and painful to walk. This is not always the case with a sprain. 

  • Bruising or Swelling in the Foot and Ankle

Bruising and swelling is a sign that there is damage to a ligament, tendon, muscle, or bone in the ankle or foot. When there is damage to tissue, there may be a flood of fluids and blood in the area. This is part of the inflammatory response to the injury. When you tear a ligament in your foot, your body tries to protect that area and repair the damage. That leads to bruising and swelling, as the inflammation response takes over and begins working toward healing the injury.

  • Difficulty Standing or Walking

Difficulty standing or walking due to foot or ankle pain is a clear and pressing sign that you need to see a doctor. If you cannot place weight on the ankle or foot, there may be a fracture or break in one of the bones in the ankle or foot. The foot and ankle are made up of a lot of bones, some are large and some are small. A skilled physician or orthopedic surgeon will likely take an X-ray to see if there is a fracture or some sort of displacement of the bones. 

Severe tendon or ligament injuries can also cause limited standing tolerance. These injuries may require an MRI to diagnose them. Continuing to try to stand on these types of injuries can make them worse and make them heal slower. It is important to seek care immediately in these cases. 

  • Excessive Redness or Open Skin

If you are experiencing excessive redness in your foot or ankle, it can be a sign of an underlying infection. In some cases, the skin may begin to open and drain. This may be a serious medical emergency and should be evaluated and treated quickly. Likewise, open skin that goes undetected can lead to infection and can become a major problem. People with diabetic neuropathy are advised to avoid wearing open shoes to help protect their feet.

Ask Your Doctor

If you have consistent foot pain, the best thing to do is to see your primary care physician, a podiatrist, or an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist. They can diagnose the problem and recommend treatment options. Left untreated, many common foot problems can get worse.

To learn more about bone health or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call us at 800-698-1280.

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