Your feet and ankles are vital parts of what keep you standing and active. Because of their importance, feet and ankles contribute to your overall health and wellness. They sustain the weight and pressure of your body when you walk, run, dance, jump, hike, and stand. Because of the pressure that we naturally put on our feet and the strain they experience from activity and the shoes that are often worn, foot and ankle pain is common. Although some foot and ankle pain will go away on its own or with conservative treatment, more serious foot and ankle conditions require more aggressive treatment and, at times, may even require surgery.

How the Feet & Ankle Work

The feet are complex systems comprised of bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, and nerves.

Bones: You have 26 bones in your feet.

  • Phalanges: Phalanges are your toe bones.
  • Metatarsals: Your metatarsals are the bones that run along your foot after the phalanges.
  • Cuneiform, navicularis, and cuboid: These bones work together to give you a stable and flexible foundation.
  • Calcaneus​: The calcaneus is your heel bone.
  • Talus: This bone is the bone in your ankle.
  • Tibia: The tibia connects your leg to the talus, your ankle.

Muscles: While there are many small muscles in the feet, most of your foot’s mobility depends upon the contraction of the stronger muscles in your legs that connect to your feet by tendons. A majority of the muscles in your feet are on the bottom of your feet. Although they are not as responsible for your movement as your leg muscles, damage to these muscles can result in pain and other problems.

Tendons and Ligaments: Tendons attach your muscles to your bones, and ligaments attach your bones to your other bones. Both tendons and ligaments are made up collagen. Because you have so many bones in your feet, you also have numerous ligaments. Ligaments do not tend to heal quickly, so, while they are strong, ligament injuries can be serious. Your tendons, especially your Achilles tendon, are susceptible to injury, which can lead to balance issues. Some tendon issues can be healed with conservative treatment; however, more advanced issues will require surgery.


Common Causes of Foot and Ankle Pain:

Due to the complexity of the feet and the fact that they bear our weight on a daily basis, feet and ankle injuries are common. Our expert orthopaedic medical team at Elmhurst Orthopaedics understands the importance of tending to foot and ankle injuries so you can get back to doing the things you love.

Foot pain and injury is extremely common. Foot pain can be sourced from local structures such as muscles, ligaments, bones and joint or it can be referred from other sources including your lower back and other systemic diseases.

Common sources of foot pain include plantar fasciitis, bunion, heel pain, heel spur and ankle injuries.

Because foot pain can have so many causes it is very important to have foot pain assessed by a health professional with an expertise in the management of foot pain. Only then can you be confident that your foot pain treatment is managing the “right” cause of your foot pain.

Ankle injuries are commonly categorised by the kind of tissue you injure (e.g. bone (fracture), ligament (sprained ankle), muscle (strain or tear), or tendon (tendinopathy or tendonitis).

The ankle joint is where three bones meet — the tibia (shin) and fibula (thin bone outside of leg) and the talus (ankle bone) above your heel. Your ankle joint is passively stabilised by your ankle ligaments, which are semi-elastic bands of connective tissue. These limit the normal motion that occurs in your ankle joint.

Your ankle muscles and the tendons that they act upon dynamically control, move and protect your ankle joint, In simple terms, your muscles move your foot and stabilise your ankle joint to avoid you overstretching your ligaments. Unfortunately, when your ankle muscles lose control or are not quick enough, your ankle ligaments are not protected, your ligaments are overstretched resulting in an ankle sprain or ligament rupture.

An ankle fracture occurs when there is a break in one or more of the bones. The most common ankle fractures are avulsion fractures of your distal fibula, Potts fracture of your tibia and fibula simultaneously and talar dome fractures, which all need to be accurately diagnosed and professionally managed by your health professional to avoid long-term foot and ankle issues.

While muscle strains are more common in your legs, there are important muscles which converge into tendons that wrap around your ankle to stabilise your ankle and foot to protect them from sprains and allow you to walk and run. These muscles are also very important to provide you with a normal foot arch and avoid flat feet.

Your muscles or tendons can become injured or inflamed as a result of overuse or trauma. The inflammation is called tendonitis. They can also tear, completely rupture, or sublux out of place. We categories tendon injuries as tendinopathies.

As you can see, there are actually a lot of common ankle injuries – not just sprained ankles. It is important to accurately diagnose exactly what is wrong with your ankle to ensure that both your short and long-term treatment goals are achieved as soon as possible.

Foot and Ankle Injuries
& Conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Achilles Tendon Rupture
  • Achilles Tendonitis
  • Bone Stress Injuries & Fractures (Broken Ankles)
  • Bunions
  • Corns & Calluses
  • Diabetic Foot Conditions
  • Flat Foot (Fallen Arches)
  • Hammertoe
  • Heel Pain & Spurs
  • Ingrown Toenails
  • Morton’s Neuroma
  • Muscle Injuries
    • Muscle Strain
  • Nerve-Related Symtoms
    • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
    • Pinched Nerve
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Peroneal Tendonitis
  • Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction
  • Tendonitis
  • Tibialis Posterior Tendinopathy
  • Traumatic Ankle Ligament Injuries
  • Sesamoiditis
  • Sprains and Strains
  • Hallux Rigidus (“Stiff Big Toe”)
  • Stress Fractures
  • Systemic Conditions – Bursitis
  • Claw Toe
  • Overlapping Top
  • Osteonecrosis

Non-Surgical Foot and Ankle Treatments:

  • Acupuncture and Dry Needling
  • Sub-Acute Soft Tissue Injury Treatment
  • Agility & Sport-Specific Exercises
  • Active Foot Posture Correction Exercises
  • Biomechanical Analysis
  • Balance Enhancement Exercises
  • Brace or Support
  • Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises
  • Electrotherapy & Local Modalities
  • Gait Analysis
  • Heat Packs
  • Heel Cups
  • Joint Mobilization Techniques
  • Kinesiology Tape
  • Medications
  • Neurodynamics
  • Platelet Rich Plasma Treatment (PRP)
  • Physiotherapy Instrument Mobilization (PIM)
  • Prehabilitation
  • Proprioception & Balance Exercises
  • Orthotics
  • Running Analysis
  • Soft Tissue Massage
  • Strength Exercises
  • Stretching Exercises
  • Supportive Taping & Strapping
  • TENS Machine
  • Video Analysis
  • Walking Boot

Surgical Foot and Ankle Treatments:

  • Ankle arthritis
  • Achilles tendon disorders
  • Bunions
  • Corns and Callous Removal
  • Foot Ulcers
  • Hammertoes
  • Heel Pain
  • Metatarsal surgery
  • Morton’s Neuroma
  • Stress Fracture
  • Tibialis posterior dysfunction
  • Joint Replacement
  • Tarsal Fusion

Get that SPRING back in your step – See us today!

When persistent foot and ankle pain disrupts your quality of life, our medical team at Elmhurst Orthopaedics is here to provide you with high-quality personalized care to ensure your long-term health. Our expert orthopaedic surgeons and pain specialists will provide you with an accurate diagnosis and a personalized comprehensive treatment plan, using surgical treatment as a last-resort option.

To determine what treatment is needed for your foot and ankle pain, contact us at 630.834.0491 or make an appointment online with one of our board certified orthopaedic physicians.

Elmhurst Othopaedics

300 W. Butterfield Rd.
Elmhurst, IL 60126