Chiropractic CE

Does Chiropractic Work for Foot & Ankle Pain?

Does Chiropractic Work for Foot & Ankle Pain?

            Foot and ankle pain is common amongst patients and can impede with their daily activities. Chiropractors know that it all goes back to the spine. Although many patients may be unsure or even unaware that chiropractic treatment is an option for their foot or ankle, there are many conditions that can indeed be treated with chiropractic. In addition to chiropractic treatment, patients should be aware of self-care measures to take when dealing with these foot and ankle conditions to gain the best outcomes. Chiropractic being non-invasive alone is a reason for patients to give it a try for their pain, but treatment can also increase their flexibility and mobility without surgery or medication.


Foot & Ankle Pain


            There are various issues that can be treated with chiropractic, and it is important that we refresh ourselves as providers on potential issues we may encounter in our practice. By refreshing our knowledge of these conditions, it will help us understand the pain these conditions are causing patients, and the difficulties they bring to daily life.


Ankle Conditions:

  • Sprain – this is the most prevalent of ankle injuries, and they happen when the ankle joint ligaments are either torn or stretched.
    • There are 3 grades to ankle sprains:
      • Grade 1 – happens in ligaments that are not torn but stretched past the normal range.
      • Grade 2 – this is the most common grade and happens as a result of partial tearing of the ligaments.
      • Grade 3 – this is the most severe grade in that it is the result of a full ligament tear.
    • Chiropractic treatment on sprained ankles helps with proper alignment and function/mobility in the joint.
  • Achilles tendonitis – inflammation within the Achilles tendon which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, and occurs from overuse.
    • Chiropractic treatment can help with misalignments in the ankle that give rise to uneven stress or pressure on the tendon. Additionally, it speeds up healing, and prevents recurrence.
  • Ankle instability – this often happens after a previous ankle injury, and feels like the ankle’s giving way.
    • Chiropractic treatment can increase joint stability, boost alignment, and re-establish proper mechanics. This will decrease the potential for further injuries.
  • Chronic ankle pain – this can result from injuries that are unresolved, misalignments, or degenerative conditions.
    • Chiropractic treatment can provide pain relief addressing underlying joint problems. Additionally, it increases circulation and enables the body’s natural healing functions.
  • Ankle arthritis – this is when the cartilage within the ankle joint gradually deteriorates which results in pain, decreased mobility, and stiffness.
    • Chiropractic treatment can improve alignment and circulation, and possibly slows the progression of the arthritis while increasing joint function.

Foot Conditions:

  • Bursitis – there is pain in the back of the heel caused by inflammation of the bursa fluid sac. This is often brought on by too much walking or running.
    • Chiropractic treatment can loosen the soft tissue to re-establish flexibility and relieve friction on the bursa sac.
  • Plantar Fasciitis – the plantar fascia ligament connects the heel to the toes, and happens when this ligament becomes inflamed.
    • Chiropractic treatment can help to relieve pain and encourage proper healing.


The Role of Chiropractic in Foot & Ankle Pain

               While there are a great deal more conditions that involve the foot and ankle, the above conditions are the most common.  The fact that the foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, and 100 ligaments, and the ankle has 3 joints, it is understandable that 75% of Americans will experience foot, ankle or both pain at some point in their lives. The role of chiropractic in foot and ankle health is larger than patients may think, especially because treatment doesn’t stop at manipulation but also dives deeper into at home maintenance.

As we know, it all starts in the spine. Misalignments within the spine as well as other joints leads to imbalances within the body which can play a part in foot and ankle pain. Chiropractic adjustments relieve pain, decrease inflammation, and increase range of motion in the ankle and foot through proper alignment. Chiropractic treatment also encourages faster healing, and prevents future injury by increasing joint mobility and decreasing tightness surrounding the soft tissues.


Benefits of Chiropractic for Foot & Ankle Pain:

  • Decrease pain – specific adjustments should be used with the goal of realigning the joint and decreasing inflammation to allow for increased range of motion as well as decrease pain. Another way that pain will be reduced with chiropractic is by addressing soft tissue restrictions that are adding to the foot and ankle pain.
  • Boosted athletic performance – the goal here is to recommend the best exercises and stretches for the athlete to prevent future issues and increase mobility. These exercises should improve flexibility as well as balance and stability.
  • Increased mobility – utilizing manual techniques, the goal is to adjust the joints of the foot and ankle to restore correct mobility and alignment. It is important to address any underlying issues that may be restricting movement.
  • Improved posture – reset normal position and functions of the bones to improve posture. Proper exercises and therapies can help to improve posture as well.

Treatments Best Utilized for Foot & Ankle Pain:

  • Joint mobilization – adjust the joints in combination with massage and physical therapy to achieve optimal results.
  • Stretching and exercises – recommend a simple exercise/stretch series that effectively re-establish mobility, and strengthen the muscles and joints in the foot and ankle.
  • Soft tissue therapy – this can include myofascial release, trigger point therapy, stretching, or massage depending on the patient history and presenting symptoms. These will engage the affected tissue to re-establish function to the foot and ankle.
  • Massage therapy – although this is technically a soft tissue therapy, massage therapy specifically is especially helpful for foot and ankle pain because of its gentle pressure at the pain site. Massage will aid with blood flow, decrease soreness, and improve health in the ligaments.

Not surprisingly, chiropractic treatment for foot and ankle pain is becoming a more popular solution because of its non-intrusive, effective, and safe nature. Additionally, it can provide a type of flexibility, mobility, and strength enhancement that standard medical care has yet to deliver on. While patients should consult with their primary doctors as well, a comprehensive treatment is ultimately what is best for the patient and that means included chiropractic treatment in their recovery.



Tips for Patients on Foot & Ankle Health


            Patients will be pleased with the outcomes of treatment by a chiropractor for their foot and ankle pain, but it is equally as important to send them home with advice on how to maintain their benefits and continue to move forward with a goal of optimal foot and ankle health.


Tips for Patients with Foot & Ankle Health:

  • Stretch regularly
  • Wearing correct footwear
  • Low impact exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight

These are just a few of the many things we can advise our patients when they leave the office to obtain foot and ankle health. Being that foot and ankle pain is more often than not a result of improper alignment, chiropractic treatment is an obvious choice for treatment whether alone or adjunctively with standard care.