Foot and Ankle Symptoms

Ankle instability

A feeling of instability or a ‘giving way’ in the foot or ankle may indicate that ligaments are torn. Ligaments are structures in the foot and ankle that control the movement of a joint and therefore provide stability. Ankle instability is usually caused by loose ligaments that need to be tightened. A feeling of instability normally occurs after a minor sprain. This feeling may be worse when walking on an uneven surface. People with chronic (recurrent) ankle sprain experience instability on a long-term basis.

Ankle pain

Ankle pain is an extremely common complaint that may be caused by many different conditions, diseases, injuries/trauma, or a combination of these conditions. Therefore, it is very important to accurately diagnose the cause of ankle pain and identify the appropriate treatment. When ankle pain begins to interfere with regular activities of daily life, it requires medical attention.

Ankle stiffness

Stiffness, or loss of movement, in the ankle or foot can occur with an ankle sprain, arthritis, and heel pain (plantar fasciitis). Usually, the stiffness happens after resting the foot and ankle. The stiffness is usually temporary and will start to decrease with the use of simple treatment methods including exercise, weight loss, proper shoe wear, cryotherapy (freezing and thawing cells), and time.

Ankle swelling

Swelling is a common symptom after any injury and can be severe, on occasions.  People who have frequent or recurrent ankle sprains tend to experience swelling to a more mild degree. However; swelling can sometimes be caused by other problems, not related to the ankles at all. These can include heart problems or blood clots further up the legs. Swelling that occurs without an ankle sprain should be checked, especially if it appears in both ankles.

Popping / snapping

Popping of the ankle or feet, without any associated pain or instability, is usually normal. This is just the snapping and stretching of the tissue lining the joints. However, if a tendon snaps over one of the anklebones when a patient walks downstairs or during active sports, it can indicate a dislocated, or unstable, tendon. Pain and instability of the ankle can also occur.

Numbness

A feeling of ‘pins-and-needles’ often occurs before numbness in the foot and ankle. Numbness may indicate a compression to the nerves or a general problem with the nerves, such as that caused by diabetes or vascular problems. The compression of these nerves may be located in different areas of the body.

Foot numbness can be caused by various conditions. These vary from injuries or standing too long to uncontrolled chronic conditions. Numbness that does not seem to be improving should be medically reviewed for a proper diagnosis and treatment.