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Foot & Ankle Injuries & Disorders

We can help you understand your options for treatment and recovery

Foot and ankle injuries and disorders hurt and keep you from enjoying an active life. They can include acute injuries which require immediate attention and chronic disorders which occur over longer periods. 

When you have painful foot and ankle injuries or conditions, receiving an evaluation from a physician will help you understand your options for treatment and recovery. Highly skilled physicians at Indiana University Health Orthopedics & Sports Medicine provide the most advanced treatments for foot and ankle injuries and disorders.

You do not have to live with pain. IU Health specialists can treat the majority of foot and ankle conditions successfully without surgery. Should you need surgery, IU Health orthopedic surgeons have extensive training and experience to advise you about options that fit your individual needs.

Acute Injuries of the Foot and Ankle

Acute injuries usually occur suddenly, due to falls, accidents, twists or other movements that put a significant strain on your foot and ankle. They can also result from overuse or excess activity including:

  • Ankle and foot sprains
  • Ankle and foot fractures
  • Achilles tendon injuries
  • Stress fractures

Ankle and Foot Sprains

Ankle and foot sprains occur often in regular, day-to-day activities as well as athletics. A sprain refers to specific damage to the ligaments that help stabilize the bones of your ankle and foot. You can partially or completely tear these ligaments (referred to as a sprain). Depending on the location of your injury, treatment for a sprain can range from rest, immobilization, and activity modifications to surgery.

Ankle and Foot Fractures

Fractures of the ankle or foot can involve one bone or multiple. You may damage ligaments as well. Treatment depends on the location of your fracture(s), whether you have any displacement, and your age and overall health.

You may use crutches and a support device, either a boot, cast, or medical shoe for smaller, non-displaced fractures with modified weight bearing. For displacement of the fracture, signs of instability, or for specific areas of the ankle or foot, your physician will usually recommend surgery. 

Achilles Tendon Injuries

You can find the Achilles tendon at the back of your foot above the heel. This important tendon controls plantarflexion of your foot and enables you to walk, run and jump. You may miss this injury and think of it as an ankle sprain.

Physicians often recommend surgery for this injury, but depending on the degree of the injury and your activity and overall health, non-surgical treatment may help. You should discuss the best course of treatment with your orthopedic specialist.

Chronic Disorders of the Foot and Ankle

Chronic disorders of the foot and ankle can cause deformities or develop over time. They include a large number of disorders, but some common ones include:

  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Flat foot deformity
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Arthritis

Achilles Tendonitis

When your Achilles tendon becomes painful over time, it can indicate tendonitis. Tendonitis refers to inflammation of the tendon, and generally results from overuse and degeneration. Achilles tendonitis can occur along the length of the tendon or at the bottom of the tendon where it attaches to your foot.

Tendonitis along the tendon generally occurs from overuse, but tendonitis at the bottom of the tendon can occur even in inactive people. Often, treatment begins with some modifications to your activity, shoes and a course of regular calf stretching exercises. Your physician may suggest surgery if you have not improved with other treatments.

Flat Foot Deformity

Flat foot deformity can occur for a variety of reasons. One major cause of flat foot includes damage to an important tendon (called the posterior tibialis tendon) that supports the arch of your foot. This damage can weaken the support for your arch and cause your foot to roll to the inside, resulting in a flattening of your foot.

Arthritis can also result in flat foot by attacking the cartilage and ligaments that support your foot. Treatment of flat foot deformity, whether surgical or non-surgical, varies depending on the particular cause of your problem.

Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia refers to a band of tissue along the bottom of your foot, which supports your arch. Sometimes too much pressure on this tissue can cause it to become inflamed or to tear.

This painful condition called plantar fasciitis usually results from lots of walking, running, or standing. It often occurs intermittent throughout the day and can cause the most pain in the morning, while getting out of bed.

This disorder responds well to non-surgical treatments, including ice, special exercises, anti-inflammatory medications, injections and sometimes orthotics. If necessary, surgical treatments exist but most patients respond to non-operative management.

Overview

You do not have to live with pain. IU Health specialists can treat the majority of foot and ankle conditions successfully without surgery. Should you need surgery, IU Health orthopedic surgeons have extensive training and experience to advise you about options that fit your individual needs.

Acute Injuries of the Foot and Ankle

Acute injuries usually occur suddenly, due to falls, accidents, twists or other movements that put a significant strain on your foot and ankle. They can also result from overuse or excess activity including:

  • Ankle and foot sprains
  • Ankle and foot fractures
  • Achilles tendon injuries
  • Stress fractures

Ankle and Foot Sprains

Ankle and foot sprains occur often in regular, day-to-day activities as well as athletics. A sprain refers to specific damage to the ligaments that help stabilize the bones of your ankle and foot. You can partially or completely tear these ligaments (referred to as a sprain). Depending on the location of your injury, treatment for a sprain can range from rest, immobilization, and activity modifications to surgery.

Ankle and Foot Fractures

Fractures of the ankle or foot can involve one bone or multiple. You may damage ligaments as well. Treatment depends on the location of your fracture(s), whether you have any displacement, and your age and overall health.

You may use crutches and a support device, either a boot, cast, or medical shoe for smaller, non-displaced fractures with modified weight bearing. For displacement of the fracture, signs of instability, or for specific areas of the ankle or foot, your physician will usually recommend surgery. 

Achilles Tendon Injuries

You can find the Achilles tendon at the back of your foot above the heel. This important tendon controls plantarflexion of your foot and enables you to walk, run and jump. You may miss this injury and think of it as an ankle sprain.

Physicians often recommend surgery for this injury, but depending on the degree of the injury and your activity and overall health, non-surgical treatment may help. You should discuss the best course of treatment with your orthopedic specialist.

Chronic Disorders of the Foot and Ankle

Chronic disorders of the foot and ankle can cause deformities or develop over time. They include a large number of disorders, but some common ones include:

  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Flat foot deformity
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Arthritis

Achilles Tendonitis

When your Achilles tendon becomes painful over time, it can indicate tendonitis. Tendonitis refers to inflammation of the tendon, and generally results from overuse and degeneration. Achilles tendonitis can occur along the length of the tendon or at the bottom of the tendon where it attaches to your foot.

Tendonitis along the tendon generally occurs from overuse, but tendonitis at the bottom of the tendon can occur even in inactive people. Often, treatment begins with some modifications to your activity, shoes and a course of regular calf stretching exercises. Your physician may suggest surgery if you have not improved with other treatments.

Flat Foot Deformity

Flat foot deformity can occur for a variety of reasons. One major cause of flat foot includes damage to an important tendon (called the posterior tibialis tendon) that supports the arch of your foot. This damage can weaken the support for your arch and cause your foot to roll to the inside, resulting in a flattening of your foot.

Arthritis can also result in flat foot by attacking the cartilage and ligaments that support your foot. Treatment of flat foot deformity, whether surgical or non-surgical, varies depending on the particular cause of your problem.

Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia refers to a band of tissue along the bottom of your foot, which supports your arch. Sometimes too much pressure on this tissue can cause it to become inflamed or to tear.

This painful condition called plantar fasciitis usually results from lots of walking, running, or standing. It often occurs intermittent throughout the day and can cause the most pain in the morning, while getting out of bed.

This disorder responds well to non-surgical treatments, including ice, special exercises, anti-inflammatory medications, injections and sometimes orthotics. If necessary, surgical treatments exist but most patients respond to non-operative management.

Patient Stories for Foot & Ankle Injuries & Disorders

Medline Plus: Ankle Injuries and Disorders

Produced by the National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus National Institutes of Health's website provides information for patients and their families about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues. 

Medline Plus: Foot Injuries and Disorders

Produced by the National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus National Institutes of Health's website provides information for patients and their families about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues.

AAOS: Foot and Ankle Issues

OrthoInfo provides information about conditions and injuries, treatment and prevention. Articles and videos developed by orthopaedic surgeons (members of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) can provide helpful information.

Resources

Medline Plus: Ankle Injuries and Disorders

Produced by the National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus National Institutes of Health's website provides information for patients and their families about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues. 

Medline Plus: Foot Injuries and Disorders

Produced by the National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus National Institutes of Health's website provides information for patients and their families about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues.

AAOS: Foot and Ankle Issues

OrthoInfo provides information about conditions and injuries, treatment and prevention. Articles and videos developed by orthopaedic surgeons (members of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) can provide helpful information.