Skagit Northwest Orthopedic

Foot & Ankle

Foot and Ankle Injuries: Trauma of the Foot and Ankle

Foot and ankle conditions can have a large impact on day-to-day life, from a fracture or torn ligament to joint injury or a sprain. Both the foot and ankle are complex systems of ligaments, muscles, and bones that can suffer a wide variety of diseases and conditions, but there are also many treatments available to help restore health and function.

Types of Foot and Ankle Injuries

There is a wide range of foot conditions and ankle injuries that can develop from disease, trauma, or predisposition. Below are common problems found in both the foot and ankle:

Common Foot Conditions

Inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. It typically causes heel pain.

A bony prominence at the base of the big toe, which can cause pain and difficulty with footwear.

A deformity where one or more of the small toes adopts a claw-like, bent position.

Inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which attaches the calf muscle to the heel bone.

A condition where the foot’s arch collapses or is not present.

The opposite of flat feet; the foot has a very pronounced arch.

Thickening of tissue around a nerve leading to the toes, usually between the third and fourth toes. It causes pain and numbness.

Pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot.

Small cracks in the bones of the foot, often due to overuse.

When the edge of the toenail grows into the skin of the toe.

Degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone. In the foot, it can affect any joint, but the big toe is particularly common.

A type of arthritis that occurs when urate crystals accumulate in the joint, leading to sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness, and swelling. The big toe joint is frequently affected.

Stiffness and degeneration of the big toe joint.

Dysfunction or tear of the posterior tibial tendon, leading to flatfoot and pain.

Injuries to the midfoot, which can include fractures and dislocations.

a break in the bone, symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, and loss of function.

small, bond growths on the heel bone, causing pain and caused by overuse or trauma.

also known as turf toe, an inflammation of the tendons around the big toe. Symptoms include swelling, bruising, and difficulty bending or straightening the big toe.

Common Ankle Conditions

Injuries to the ligaments that stabilize the ankle. This is one of the most common ankle injuries and can range from mild to severe depending on the extent of ligament damage.

Breaks in any of the bones that form the ankle joint, namely the tibia, fibula, or talus.

Inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone.

A tear of the Achilles tendon, either partial or complete.

Pain and restricted motion due to soft tissue or bony overgrowths at the front or back of the ankle.

Compression of the posterior tibial nerve as it runs through the tarsal tunnel in the ankle, causing pain and numbness.

Dysfunction or degeneration of the posterior tibial tendon, which can lead to flatfoot and pain.

A condition where the ankle easily “gives way” due to previous sprains or injuries

Inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac that reduces friction in the ankle joint.

A type of arthritis caused by the accumulation of urate crystals within the joint, leading to painful swelling.

Inflammation of the synovial membrane that lines the ankle joint.

Inflammation of the peroneal tendons on the outer side of the ankle.

The peroneal tendons slip out of their normal position, often due to a sudden injury.

Symptoms of Foot and Ankle Injuries

A foot or ankle injury can present a range of symptoms, depending on the type and severity of the injury, though common symptoms include:

  • Pain: Ranging from a dull ache to sharp, intense pain. The location and level of pain can often help in diagnosing the specific injury.
  • Swelling: Inflammation often results in swelling around the injured area.
  • Bruising: Blood vessels may break as a result of trauma, leading to discoloration of the skin around the ankle.
  • Limited Range of Motion: The ability to move the ankle or foot fully may be reduced due to pain, swelling, or blockage caused by the injury.
  • Stiffness: The ankle or foot may feel stiff, especially after periods of rest or in the morning.
  • Instability: The sensation that the ankle might “give way” or is unstable when bearing weight. This is common in ligament injuries.
  • Popping or Snapping Sensation: A sudden pop or snap might be felt at the time of injury, especially in cases of ligament tears or fractures.
  • Warmth: The injured area might feel warm to the touch due to increased blood flow from inflammation.
  • Tenderness: The ankle or foot may be sensitive or tender to touch at the site of injury.
  • Deformity: In severe cases, such as fractures or dislocations, the ankle or foot might appear deformed or out of its normal alignment.
  • Numbness or Tingling: Compression or injury to the nerves around the ankle or ankle can lead to feeling tingling or numbness.
  • Difficulty Bearing Weight: Pain or instability may make it hard to stand or walk on the affected ankle or foot.


Common Care and Treatment

It’s important to note that when an injury develops with either the foot or ankle, a person can see either a podiatrist or an orthopedic doctor. The key difference between the two medical professionals is their focus and training:

  • A podiatrist has specialized training to treat disorders of the foot and ankle
  • An orthopedic doctor or surgeon is a medical doctor who treats the entire musculoskeletal system.

It isn’t uncommon for a podiatrist to refer a patient to an orthopedic surgeon for surgical treatments on either the foot or ankle. Beyond surgical options, if a podiatrist finds that pain in the foot and ankle stem from problems elsewhere (like the knees or hips), they would refer you to an orthopaedic doctor as their focus is strictly on the feet.

Whether a person first sees a podiatrist or an orthopedic doctor, these are the most common treatments for foot and ankle conditions:

Exercises and treatments to restore function, strength, and mobility.

Custom-made shoe inserts designed to support, align, or improve foot function.

Used to reduce inflammation, especially in cases of arthritis or some types of tendonitis.

Crutches, canes, or walking boots to offload weight and provide support during healing.

Manual therapy techniques to improve joint movement.

a joint replacement surgery used for arthritis in the ankle where implants are placed.

a surgery where the bone is cut and ligaments released to allow the big toe to straighten properly.

Using two small incisions, foot and ankle surgeons will stimulate new cartilage growth for those with cartilage lesions in the ankle joint.

a pain-relieving procedure for arthritic joints. By removing the cartilage from a joint, the bones grow into one which stops pain from them rubbing against each other.

Why Choose Proliance Surgeons Skagit Northwest Orthopedics?

Our ankle surgeons at Proliance Surgeons Skagit Northwest Orthopedics have completed additional training specifically in the foot and ankle. With this advanced training, our foot and ankle surgeons, Dr. Cindy Bullock and Dr. Camille Connelly have the experience and expertise to assess, diagnose, and treat your ankle injury or condition individually to your needs.

To consult with an ankle surgeon at Proliance Surgeons Skagit Northwest Orthopedics, please request an appointment online or call (360) 424-7041.

Cindy E. Bullock, DPM
Camille L. Connelly
Camille L. Connelly, MD