As the weather gets nicer many change their footwear and increase activity. This often results in foot and ankle pain. With simple preventative exercises, individuals can reduce chances of experiencing this pain & get treatment if it does get worse.
“Who doesn’t love this time of year?” says Chris Stulginsky, physical therapist and owner of Ayrsley Town Rehabilitation. “It’s a great time to get outside with your family and friends to enjoy the weather; however foot and ankle pain often follows.”
There are many ways to work to prevent these types of injuries with very little effort. “Alternating footwear, and performing stretches, like a standing gastrocnemius stretch and standing soleus stretch, are very important.”
Many of these problems are preventable, but despite one’s best effort, they still may start developing pain in the foot and ankle.
“When the pain is interfering with your life, it is very important that these types of maneuvers are performed correctly. They may seem easy on the paper your doctor has given you or on the internet; however, I would say, almost everyone we see needs some level of correction,” stated Stulginsky.
The body’s desire to do things efficiently is a positive in many ways, but in a case where pain has set in it often results in compensation and improper technique. “Many times we find our patients are not performing their exercises correctly and are reinforcing the very issues that are cause a great deal of their pain. Additionally, dysfunction in the hip and knee often change the way the foot hits the ground and also contributes to the pain,” says Stulginsky.
Many disorders, such as plantar fasciitis, tarsal tunnel, tendonitis and heel pain, all present very similarly and are typically treated with footwear modification and potentially with injections. One commonly over-looked component is the nerve in that area, which needs to be treated with a specific and targeted treatment plan.
The nerve is one component that can affect all of these areas. It commonly presents symptoms in one area but and is radiating from problems in other areas. “Just like muscles and tendons, nerves get tight as well,” says Jackson Bellis, DPT who is the newest addition to ATR’s clinical team. “We have found that using nerve mobilizations with our patients is gentle, effective and can have fast results.”
Recently, Roger Goforth presented to the ATR team with a diagnosis of tarsal tunnel. “I was in excruciating pain. Things I took for granted all my life such as showering, walking barefoot and getting dressed were difficult.”
The tarsal tunnel runs along the inside of the ankle and provides sensation to the entire bottom surface of the foot. This area typically gets squeezed between the tissue behind the ankle bone on the inside of the leg.
“With the use of gentle neural mobilizations and a technique we call a tarsal trace we have significantly diminished Mr. Goforth’s pain,” says Bellis.
When performed by a skilled clinician, neural mobilizations are effective because both the nerve and the surrounding tissue get relief from issues causing inflammation. The neural tissue becomes hypersensitive, and as a result, it is harder for the nervous system to perform and recover.
Goforth is a believer. “After 3 treatments I was able to walk and stand barefoot with very little pain for the first time in a year. The results have been nothing short of amazing.”