Ankles & Legs

Conditions Treated

Learn more about the ankle and leg conditions our podiatrists commonly treat.

Achilles Tendonitis

The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. Achilles tendonitis is the overuse of that tendon. In most cases, it is caused by repetitive stress or strain, possibly due to working on your feet all day, playing sports, or distance running. 

While Achilles tendinitis can affect both men and women, podiatrists often see higher incidences among men, especially if they’re older.

Achilles tendon

Symptoms may include:

  • Mild to severe aching
  • Swelling or tenderness
  • Pain near the back of your heel
  • Stiffness and discomfort after periods of inactivity
  • Difficulty bearing weight on the affected leg

Risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Flat feet
  • Advanced age
  • Taking certain antibiotic drugs
  • Wearing ill-fitting or unsupportive workout shoes

It’s important to book an Achilles tendonitis exam if you’re experiencing any symptoms. If left untreated, it can lead to tendon tears that may require surgical repair.

Achilles Tendonitis Treatment

Your treatment plan may include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Night splints
  • Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Technology (EPAT®)
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Laser therapy
  • Stretching exercises
  • Custom orthotic inserts
  • Heel lifts

If conservative treatments don’t work, your podiatrist may recommend surgery to remove damaged tissues and make any essential repairs. 

Achilles tendonitis

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Ankle Instability

During an ankle sprain, the ligaments can be stretched or torn. If the injury doesn’t heal properly or was not rehabilitated completely, it can lead to a condition called chronic ankle instability. 

About 20% of acute ankle sprain patients develop this condition. Participating in activities that involve the ankle—such as ballet, gymnastics, basketball, or football—can lead to chronic ankle instability. Additionally, those who suffer from repeated ankle sprains are at an increased risk.

Ankle instability

Chronic Ankle Instability Symptoms

  • The ankle repeatedly turning, especially while playing sports
  • Persistent discomfort and swelling
  • Tenderness or pain on the outside of the ankle
  • The ankle feeling wobbly or unstable

Ankle Instability Treatment

At the onset of ankle pain or soreness, the R.I.C.E. method is recommended (rest, ice, compress, and elevate). If you experience instability daily when walking or standing, wearing an ankle brace can help provide support.

Other non-surgical treatment options include anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy to strengthen the ankle.

If these treatment options don’t work, your podiatrist may suggest surgery to repair the damaged ligaments.

Ankle instability

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Ankle Fracture

A broken ankle, also known as an ankle fracture, is a common sports injury. Other causes include twisting or rotating your ankle, rolling your ankle, or direct impact during a car accident or fall.

Ankle fracture

Typical ankle fracture symptoms include:

  • Immediate, throbbing pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Deformity if the fracture is dislocated
  • Difficulty bearing weight on the ankle

Your risk of a broken ankle increases if you:

  • Participate in high-impact sports
  • Use improper technique or sports equipment
  • Suddenly increase your activity level
  • Work in certain occupations, like at a construction site
  • Keep your home messy or poorly lit
  • Have certain conditions like decreased bone density

Ankle Fracture Treatment

As soon as you suspect a fracture, you should: 

  • Stay off your feet, so you do not damage the ankle further
  • Keep the injured foot raised to help reduce swelling
  • Apply cold packs to decrease swelling and pain

To determine where the fracture is and the severity, your doctor will use a digital X-ray or C.T. scan. If the bones are aligned, and the ankle is stable, a cast or brace is used to keep the bones held in place while they heal. If not, then you may need surgery and physical therapy. 

At the first sign of an ankle injury, visit a podiatrist to confirm the diagnosis and begin treatment. If you don’t have a podiatrist, we can help you find one here.

Ankle fracture treatment

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Ankle Replacement

During ankle replacement surgery, the damaged joint is replaced with an artificial implant. General anesthesia is typically given, which will make you sleep so that you feel no pain or discomfort.

Your doctor may recommend this procedure if you suffer from severe arthritis in your ankle. This can cause symptoms like pain, inflammation, and stiffness, which can lead to difficulty walking.

Ankle replacement

After ankle replacement surgery, you can expect to wear a cast, brace, or splint to prevent the ankle from moving while it heals. Physical therapy will be needed to ensure optimal healing and return of function in your new ankle. Try and be patient (we know that is easier said than done), it may take several months until you can bear weight on the new ankle.

If you’re suffering from chronic, unresolved ankle pain, talk to your doctor. If you don’t have a podiatrist, we can help you find one here.

Shin Splints

Shin splints are tiny tears in the shinbone and connective tissue that is caused by repetitive stress. This condition can cause pain, soreness, and tenderness along the inner side of your shinbone and mild swelling in the lower leg. Pain varies from a dull, throbbing feeling to a sharp sensation. When shin splints first appear, the pain may stop when you rest.

Shin splints

Shin Splints Risk Factors

While shin splints most frequently affect runners, dancers, and military recruits, it can affect any active individual. This common problem can result from:

  • Running on uneven or hard surfaces
  • Flat feet or high arches
  • Weak ankles, hips, or core muscles
  • Shoes that don’t provide proper support
  • Suddenly increasing the intensity, frequency, or duration of your exercise

Shin Splints Treatment

Don’t wait to get help for shin splints. They can progressively get worse and lead to stress fractures.

Treatment starts with rest from the activity that is causing the problem—your body needs time to heal. Ice and elastic compression bandages are often recommended to help prevent swelling, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications are used to relieve pain. Your doctor may prescribe orthotics to stabilize the foot and take stress off the leg.

As you recuperate, your doctor may provide exercises to stretch your lower leg muscles. Supportive shoes worn throughout the day can help relieve pain and prevent future shin splints. After you’ve had plenty of time to heal, your doctor will help you develop a plan to return to exercise. Typically, it is suggested to begin at a low intensity and slowly increase training to prevent shin splints from recurring.

Shin splints exercise stretching

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Sprained Ankle

A sprained ankle happens when you twist or awkwardly turn your ankle. Your risk is higher if you participate in sports or activities that require a sudden change of direction, like basketball or soccer. The risk of ankle sprain increases by wearing shoes that lack sufficient support, walking/running/playing on uneven surfaces, and having a history of ankle sprains.

Ankle sprain grades

Sprained Ankle Symptoms

  • Bruising
  • Mild-to-severe pain
  • Instability
  • A popping sound when the injury occurs
  • Swelling
  • Limited mobility of the ankle

Those who have had multiple sprains in the past may only experience a wobbly or unsteady ankle. Regardless of the pain level, all sprains need to receive medical attention as soon as possible.

Sprained Ankle Treatment

Your podiatrist may recommend:

  • Resting your ankle
  • Elevating it on a pillow when sitting or lying down
  • Periodically applying ice to the injury
  • Using an elastic bandage to compress your ankle
  • A series of stretching exercises to improve the range of motion
  • A brace or stirrup for support
  • Pain pills, as needed, to alleviate discomfort
Sprained ankle treatment

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Tendonitis

Tendons are thick collagen tissue that attaches muscle to bone. Tendonitis happens when a tendon in your foot and ankle becomes inflamed or irritated. It tends to sneak up on you by gradually developing as repetitive activities cause ongoing inflammation.

Tendonitis

Tendonitis Risk Factors

Many activities can cause tendonitis, including:

  • Gardening
  • Raking
  • Carpentry
  • Cleaning the house
  • Painting
  • Playing tennis
  • Golfing
  • Skiing
  • Throwing and pitching

Incorrect posture or poor conditioning before exercise or playing sports can increase your risk.

Tendonitis Symptoms & Treatment

Pain is the primary symptom, and it typically worsens when using the affected tendon. However, swelling or thickening of the tendon can occur. Depending on the tendon affected, the foot’s arch can flatten, and your ankle can roll inward. It’s important to talk to a podiatrist as soon as symptoms appear.

Treatment includes rest, immobilization, bracing, orthotics, and physical therapy. When the inflammation leads to a rupture, the tendon may need surgical repair. Stem cell injections or E.P.A.T. pressure waves may also be recommended, depending on the severity.

Tendonitis bracing

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