Foot and ankle pain Q&A

Sometimes when we feel an ache in our ankle or foot it is hard to pinpoint its actual cause and how we can prevent it.

Mr Rajiv Limaye, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at BMI Woodlands Hospital, is answering frequently asked questions to help us understand why we get pain in our ankles or feet, and how to relieve or treat it.

Mr Rajiv Limaye
There are many reasons why an ankle or foot might hurt. The common causes are bunions, arthritis in the big toe and foot, tendon dysfunctions and ligament injuries. Both active and non-active group of patients can be equally affected and there are no age limits to these problems as both men and women are equally affected.

Mr Rajiv Limaye
When the initial problems start, the body will try and compensate in various ways. This natural defence will stop, and the symptoms of underlying problems will be evident. This can take a few months or even a few years. However, in active patients this starts to limit the activity very soon and they usually seek advice from a doctor.

Mr Rajiv Limaye
The usual presentation of any foot/ankle problem starts with swelling, pain and deformity. Depending on various conditions, patients will start getting a reduction of their activity level, whether it is walking, physical activity or recreational activities.

Mr Rajiv Limaye
If the symptoms are not responding to the usual pain killers, physiotherapy and activity modifications, then patients should seek advice from their GP or a foot/ankle surgeon, who is medically qualified and has a sub-specialty foot/ankle practice. The history of injury is usually relevant, however in cases of degenerative conditions, the doctor will be able to advise sooner.

Mr Rajiv Limaye
Once patients seek advice from a foot/ankle specialist, usually investigations in the form of X-rays, ultrasound, MRI scans or CT scans are organised to confirm the diagnosis. Depending on the condition, usually a course of non-operative treatment is offered first, but if the response is minimal, then surgery can be considered.

Mr Rajiv Limaye
It is very important for us to remain active. This must be in conjunction with looking after our joints, muscle strength and function. Foot/ankle problems can affect us in one or many ways and it is very important to seek advice early if there are any issues.

Mr Rajiv Limaye
The most common method of strengthening your ankle is through physiotherapy. However, if the source of the condition is not addressed, the outcomes of physiotherapy can be compromised. Therefore, you should seek advice when the pain appears.

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