When foot and ankle injuries arise, many people brush them off as a minor issue. Yet, neglecting foot and ankle pain can lead to all sorts of serious problems that can affect your health and mobility. After all, your feet are an essential part of your body, helping you balance, walk, and run. Here are 11 reasons not to ignore your foot and ankle pain.
11 Reasons You Shouldn’t Ignore Foot and Ankle Injuries in Prince George, Terrace, and Williams Lake
1. You Might Have a Foot Fracture
Foot fractures are most often caused by overtraining or direct impact on the foot, and they’re one of the most common injuries that people experience. They’re characterized by swelling and bruising. The pain may not be that bad in the beginning, but if not tended to, the fracture can quickly worsen. Usually, fractures can be treated with rest and an immobilizing boot brace but may require surgery if it gets bad enough.
2. You Could Have Arthritis or Tendonitis
Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent type of arthritis and is a degenerative disease of the joints. It can affect any joint in your body, but in the foot, it’s most often found in the big toe. Over time, it damages the cartilage in your toe, which can cause the bones to painfully rub against one another.
If not treated in time, osteoarthritis in the foot can result in hallux rigidus, which is when the cartilage deteriorates away completely. This condition can severely limit your mobility to the point where it’s difficult to even stand. Another condition to watch out for is tendonitis, which can develop when your tendons become inflamed due to an injury or disease. These conditions are not likely to clear up on their own and need to be managed by a doctor.
3. It Could Be Morton’s Neuroma
This is a painful foot and ankle injury characterized by a burning sensation in the ball of your foot, tingling or numbness in the toes, or sharp, shock-like pain in the 3rd and 4th toes. It occurs when the nerve bundles get too compressed.
If caught early enough, it can be treated with orthotics and anti-inflammatory medication. However, if it becomes severe, surgery is sometimes required to remove part of the affected nerve or to relieve the tissue surrounding it.
4. It Could Be a Sign of a Serious Medical Condition
Foot and ankle pain is often due to injury from overuse, improper shoes, or misalignment, but it can also signal a serious underlying health condition. For example, gout is caused by too much uric acid buildup in your body, which can cause immense foot pain.
But it can also mean you have other health problems, as excess uric acid also damages other organs like the kidneys and heart. People with gout are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
5. Foot Pain May Get Worse Over Time
If you neglect foot and ankle pain for too long, not only can it become more severe, but it can also develop into more painful issues that you still need to address. For example, Achilles tendonitis can cause pain when you walk, jog, or lift yourself up on the balls of your feet. It’s often caused by overuse from intense exercise and is painful enough on its own. But if ignored, the tendon could end up tearing – which is excruciating.
6. You Could Lose Mobility
Foot and ankle pains can also cause damage that affects your mobility. For example, if plantar fasciitis is left untreated, the inflammation can cause tearing to the fascia and result in plantar rupture.
Plantar rupture is characterized by acute pain followed by swelling of the foot. By this stage, the pain is so debilitating the foot cannot bear any weight. Ignoring plantar fasciitis can lead to a host of other issues as well, like heel spurs, plantar fibromatosis, and knee or hip pain.
7. You Could Injure Other Parts of Your Body
Although foot and ankle pain is often isolated, it can have a domino effect on your other bones and joints if left untreated. A foot condition can cause a misalignment in which stress is put on ligaments, tendons, or bones in an unnatural way. That misalignment can eventually result in injury further up your leg, causing knee or hip pain.
For example, plantar fasciitis is often caused by a biomechanical issue that forces added stress on your foot. If not fixed, the problem can cause misalignment in your pelvic girdle, leading to hip pain.
8. Treatment Gets More Complicated
Most foot and ankle ailments can be treated easily if they are addressed early enough. However, if you ignore the underlying cause for too long, it may get so bad that the first line of treatment no longer works.
For example, tarsal tunnel syndrome is a common condition that affects the nerve inside the ankle. It is usually treated with medication and orthotic devices. However, if neglected, the condition can worsen and require surgery, which takes 3-6 months to recover from. Even worse, diabetic feet can succumb to ulcers, which can get badly infected. In more dire cases, the foot may even need to be amputated.
9. You Could End Up With Chronic or Permanent Problems
Fail to look after your feet, and you could end up with persistent foot problems that are hard to manage. Even if you can bear the pain, you could be at risk of developing arthritis in the bone as the underlying problem could gradually wear away the cartilage in your foot.
Some foot and ankle problems can become permanent if left untreated. For example, hammertoe and mallet toes are often caused by ill-fitting shoes, trauma, or an imbalance in the muscles. They can be fixed if addressed early enough, but the tendons could contract and permanently disfigure the foot if ignored for too long.
10. It Can Impact Your Ability to Work
If foot and ankle problems become chronic, you could have a hard time performing your job duties. For example, if your job requires you to spend a lot of time on your feet, an untreated foot condition can cause so much pain it’s difficult to function.
A podiatrist can help address problems before they affect your performance at work by fitting you for orthotics and prescribing medications. But left unchecked, you could end up needing to quit your job if the pain becomes too severe.
11. It Can Affect Your Quality of Life
Chronic or permanent foot issues can impact your day-to-day life. You may not be able to participate in the activities you once enjoyed, like running, sports, or gardening. Even going for a walk could become a difficult task. Not being as physically active as you’d like could cause depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
As you can see, foot and ankle pains can become severe conditions if left untreated. So don’t ignore any symptoms that seem off; seek help immediately if you notice anything unusual with your feet or ankles. Dealing with foot pain? Visit us at Island Foot Clinics today and book an assessment. We have clinics throughout British Columbia, including locations in Prince George, Terrace, and Williams Lake!