What are the Most Common Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Problems?

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  • Written By: Jessica F. Black
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2019
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The most common orthopedic foot and ankle problems are bunions, ankle sprains, and several forms of arthritis. These problems also have a variety of other causes, and any persistent or unmanageable discomfort should be immediately reported to a medical professional in order to avoid further damage. Multiple tests and examinations may be necessary before diagnosing the primary source of pain. Some of the circumstances causing pain can be treated by home remedies, but others require doctor or surgical attention.

A bunion can cause extreme pain in the foot due to the inward movement of the bone behind the big toe, which is closest to the ankle. The movement of this bone usually causes discomfort throughout the foot and the ankle. Treatment methods often depends on the severity of the bunion, and include icing, specialized bunion pads, or surgery. Surgery for moderate bunions usually consists of cutting the bone and moving it over, whereas surgery for severe bunions cuts a portion out of the bone and rotates it. Recovery from bunion surgery usually takes at least a few weeks, but it is ultimately dependent on the type of surgery and the individual.


An ankle sprain is caused by the tearing or overextending of the various surrounding ligaments and usually occurs during excessive movement, especially during exercise and sports. The torn ligaments generally cause a throbbing sensation in the ankle that shoots through the foot. Medical attention is almost always required to ensure that further complications are not present, such as a severe foot injury or bone fracture. Treatment can vary depending on the severity of the orthopedic foot and ankle injury, but non-surgical remedies are most common and involve anti-inflammatory medications, over the counter pain reducers, foot rest, ice packs, and elevating the foot to minimize swelling. Surgical procedures focus on repairing the ligaments and after care is highly important to avoid re-injury.

The three primary forms of orthopedic foot and ankle arthritis are rheumatoid, post-traumatic, and osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory disease, occurs when the immune systems disintegrates bone cartilage. Post-traumatic arthritis can occur, sometimes years, after severe orthopedic foot and ankle damage that involved joint dislocation or fracture. Osteoarthritis is degenerative and progressively worsens over long periods of time, usually due to genetics, aging, or a weak bone structure. Treatments for the aforementioned forms of arthritis include pain medication, anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections, corrective footwear, and other remedies typically performed at home.


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Post 3

@SarahGen-- You ought to see a doctor. It's not possible to diagnose it yourself.

There could be so many possible causes. If your heels hurt the most, you might have jogger's heel. It's also called plantar fasciitis. Or you might have a fallen arch aka flat feet that's causing weight in the foot to be distributed unevenly. Even friction from shoes and calluses can cause significant foot pain.

If you see your doctor, he or she can figure it out for you. If it turns out to be plantar fasciitis, there are foot braces you can use at night to resolve the problem. I've suffered from it in the past.

Post 2

I develop terrible foot pain when I walk and stand for too long. What might be the cause of this?

Post 1

My mom has a bunion on her left foot. It's a bit large and it does cause her discomfort. It's also painful if she wears the wrong type of shoe. Her doctor suggested surgery but she isn't willing to go through it. She is able to manage the discomfort with a bunion brace. She wears it at home. It separates her large toe so that the bunion isn't painful. This seems to work for her and since she always wears comfortable, orthopedic shoes, we're hoping that the bunion doesn't get worse.

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