Risk factors of foot injury

BY: Dorothy Akua Adjabu
A bandaged leg

Your feet are involved in various activities such as cycling, jogging or walking each day. Whenever you have challenges with your feet, your daily activities become quite difficult.

There are two tough cords that pass behind the outer aspect of your ankle joint. One of the cords from a muscle in the leg is attached to the middle of the foot, while the other cord is attached to the inside of the foot arch.

 

These cords are essential and play a specific role in the foot – they balance the foot and prevent the ankle joint from turning inwards frequently. They also stabilise the ankle joint and the foot for you to walk or run.

These tough cords also enable you to turn your foot outward.  Sometimes tears occur in these tough cords which lead to swelling, pain and a sense of instability on the outer aspect of the ankle and foot.

Some individuals do not seek medical advice when they experience pain in the initial stages hence the pain becomes chronic and more difficult to treat.

The condition is called Acute in the initial stages of the condition and Chronic, after a prolonged period of time.

Most individuals who have this condition have an active lifestyle with repetitive ankle or foot movements. The repeated movements of the foot usually result in foot injury.

What are the causes or risk factors?

One of the risk factors of this condition results from overuse movements of the foot, which causes the cords to overwork due to the repetitive or too much stress on the ankle joint.

There are various risk factors associated with this condition. Particular circumstances in which this condition occurs includes:

Individuals with high foot arches- A high arch places extra stress on the tough cords in the foot and, therefore may get damaged easily.

Individuals who usually run along slopes – this causes too much inward movement of the foot.

A person who has tightness in the leg muscles

What are the symptoms?

Pain – individuals with this condition have soreness, stiffness and pain around the ankle joint or foot. At its initial stage, you may realise that the pain is present when you walk or run.

Your foot may also be sore when you get up from bed in the morning. The pain and stiffness may reduce as the day progresses.

When you touch your foot, you may also feel the pain. As the condition gets progressively worse, you may have the pain present all the time- before, during and after exercising.

Swelling – there may be mild swelling on the outer aspect of the ankle or around the joint

Functional challenges – The individual may also have challenges with functional movements due to stiffness, pain and decreased movements in the foot.

Numbness - Numbness or burning sensation may be experienced on the outer aspect of the foot.

Diagnosis

A complete physical examination is performed to check the stiffness or flexibility of your foot, range of movement of the foot, shape of the ankle and foot, muscle strength and functional movements of your foot.

Your previous medical history should be provided together with the symptoms. Enquiries would also be made about your daily activities and changes in your activity levels should also be taken into consideration.

For example, whether you are a sportsman or recently began an exercise programme.

An X-ray may be conducted to check the ankle joint alignment and whether there are any broken bones or not.

An MRI may also be conducted to check the state of the tough cords; whether there are any abnormalities in the appearance or integrity of the cords.