Foot and Ankle Pain

foot ankle condition

Every day, our feet and ankles bear the brunt of pressure that comes from supporting our full body weight. The incredible demand we put on them is often more than they can endure. But, the orthopaedic specialists at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center know that even if you are suffering foot pain or discomfort in your feet or ankles, you don’t need to live with it.

Ankle Sprains

An ankle sprain tears the outer supportive ligaments of the ankle and can range from minor to so severe that the ligaments are torn completely, resulting in the ankle feeling loose. If a person frequently sprains an ankle, the ankle ligaments may be weakened to the point that a chronic instability results in frequent ankle sprains. This in turn can lead to other ankle problems, including bruised cartilage between the heel and the shin or bone spurs around the ankle. Eventually, these problems can lead to arthritis.

Ankle Fusion
A surgical procedure that locks the ankle joint with screws, prohibiting the upward and downward motion of the ankle. It is a way to relieve pain in patients who have a worn out ankle joint due to arthritis or a traumatic injury. It is also an option for people with a severe deformity such as a flat foot, high-arched foot, or a club foot in which the ankle joint is also deformed, unstable, or damaged.

Ankle Replacement 
An available treatment for those suffering from arthritis in the ankle. Previously, the traditional treatment for severe arthritis in the ankle was to fuse together the bones of the ankle joint, restricting movement. In total ankle replacement, the diseased, worn out ankle joint is removed and replaced with a prosthetic joint made of steel, chrome, and polyethylene.

Infected Ankle Replacement
If a total joint replacement becomes infected, the health of the joint and limb, as well as the overall health of the patient, become an immediate concern. Not all orthopaedic specialists are trained to manage and treat infected total joints. At MedStar Health, our foot and ankle specialists and surgeons appropriately manage and aggressively treat infections. This often times requires removal of the total joint implant and a course of antibiotics followed by revision joint replacement. While this is unfortunate, it is critical for removing the bacteria from your system and maximizing your overall health and outcome.


Arthritis is an inflammation of the tissues that line your joints. This inflammation can cause pain, swelling, and joint damage. If left untreated, the nagging foot pain and ankle pain from arthritis can grow worse, eventually becoming so excruciating that you can no longer walk even short distances. Severe arthritis can restrict your mobility and limit your quality of life; however, with proper treatment, you can slow the development of arthritis and lead a more productive life.

Each person's arthritis is different, so your physician will discuss treatment options best suited for you. Treatment can range from conservative methods, such as anti-inflammatory medications, braces, orthotics or physical therapy, to arthroscopic or joint replacement surgery. Learn more about arthritis pain.


A bunion is an inflamed, bony bump that forms at the base of the big toe where it joins with the foot. A bunion results from the big toe pushing against the neighboring toe, forcing the joint of the big toe to swell and bulge out causing foot pain. This common deformity can be caused by wearing shoes that are excessively tight or can develop as a result of a genetic structural defect or a medical condition, such as arthritis. Bunions tend to slowly worsen over time, and, if they become too severe, can hamper the ability to walk, increasing the risk of developing arthritis and/or bursitis.

Bunion care can range from nonsurgical methods, such as wearing roomier shoes and using protective pads to cushion the painful area, to surgical methods employed to realign bone, ligaments, tendons, and nerves so the big toe can be brought back to its correct position.


The ankle is made up of three bones, and the foot comprises 26 bones. Fractures can occur in any of these bones and are usually due to trauma such as a fall, blow, or severe twist.

Fracture Symptoms

  • Immediate and severe pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising and tenderness
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Difficulty walking or putting weight on the injured foot/ankle
  • Lump or visible deformity

Because a severe sprain can often mask the symptoms of a fracture, every injury to the foot and ankle should be examined by a physician.

Fracture Care Treatment
Treatment is different for each individual and depends on the extent of the fracture. Treatment can range from a special shoe or cast to surgery for more severe fractures. Our foot and ankle specialists and surgeons may use plates, metal or absorbable screws, pins, staples, or tension bands to hold the bones in place. Physical therapy is the second stage of treatment for a fracture, following the cast removal or surgery.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

The tarsal tunnel is a space where leg nerve (tibial nerve) travels down to the ankle. Many other structures are found here, as well, including tendons, veins, and arteries, leaving little room for expansion. Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when the tunnel swells, compressing the tibial nerve and causing foot pain and ankle pain, burning, and tingling occur along the inside of the ankle, heel, arch, and sole of the foot. Symptoms tend to increase as the day progresses and are usually worsened with increased activity, such as walking or exercise. Prolonged standing in one place may also be an aggravating factor.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome Care
Our foot and ankle specialists may implement conservative treatments such as rest, elevation, massage, anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, arch supports (orthotics), and/or better-fitting shoes. If conservative treatment does not provide results, your physician may suggest surgery during which an incision made in the ligament, located below the inside of the ankle, allowing room for the nerve to expand. If a cyst is impinging on the nerve, it can be removed.

Tendon Reconstruction

Tendon Reconstruction is a treatment employed to repair tendon tears. For less severe tears, suturing may suffice. If you have an acute tear, your doctor will use tendon tissue grafts, taken either from elsewhere in the leg or from a tissue bank, to make the repair.

Wound care

Wound care can be critical because wounds on the foot and ankle are slow to heal on certain people, especially diabetics. Wounds can develop into ulcers from such conditions as such as lack of feeling in the foot, poor circulation, foot deformities, irritation, and trauma. Diabetic patients sometimes develop neuropathy (lack of feeling) in the feet that can leave wounds undetected. Vascular disease can also complicate a foot ulcer, reducing the body's ability to heal and increasing the risk for an infection.

Our teams of medical specialists—including physicians, orthopaedic surgeons, sports physical therapists, occupational therapists, and athletic trainers—are dedicated to helping you reach or return to your desired level of activity, as quickly and safely as possible. Learn more.

Make an Appointment

For more information or to schedule an appointment with an orthopaedics specialist, call 301-774-8958 or schedule an appointment online below. 

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