Foot Ligament Injury
By Ehren Allen, Certified Manual Therapist/Physical Therapist
How Do You Know if You Tore a Ligament in Your Foot?
Ligaments connect bones to other bones. The foot has many small bones which require numerous ligaments to hold them together. A tear in one of those ligaments can cause pain, swelling, and instability in the foot. There may be pain with weight bearing and with walking activity. With severe swelling, there may be nerve compression which can cause numbness or tingling.
A torn foot ligament can occur from trauma such as a forceful impact or a sudden direction change. These actions may cause a quick load of the ligaments which can cause the fibers to stretch or tear. Other causes may include excessive weight bearing over time with the wrong shoes or excessive body weight.
After an injury to the ankle or foot, walking tolerance is often the best indicator of the severity of the injury. If you cannot take 3 or 4 steps without severe pain, it is typically best to go the Emergency department to determine if there is a fracture. This will likely involve an X-ray.
Will a Torn Ligament Heal on its Own?
A torn ligament typically heals on its own. The time may vary depending on severity. It can take 2 to 4 weeks to heal from a mild sprain. More serious sprains may take several months. If a ligament is completely ruptured, complete healing may not occur. In these cases, a surgical repair may be required.
Most ligaments do not have much blood supply. This makes them heal slower than other structures in the body.
Physical therapy can help to promote healing by strengthening muscles around the area to help support the joints. Therapy can also help to keep tissue flexible and pliable to avoid excessive scar tissue build up after the injury.
Can You Walk with a Torn Ligament in Foot?
You can usually walk with a torn ligament but if the foot ligament that is injured supports the arch or the structure of the foot, there may be a lot of pain with walking. Most ankle injuries do not limit weight bearing. However, excessive walking with a torn ligament in the foot or ankle may cause increased swelling and pain. A splint or air cast may be needed with walking to provide support to the ankle. A walking boot may be appropriate for severe injuries.
What Helps Ligaments Heal Faster?
Ligaments heal slower than other tissues due to the limited blood supply. But, there are things that you can do to make sure that the healing happens as quickly as possible.
- Limit weight bearing activity while healing.
- Ice the foot after activity to limit swelling.
- Laser therapy can help promote tissue healing.
- Strengthening surrounding muscles to avoid weakness from less use during healing
The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute has the answer foot ligament tears. JOI has 12 physical therapy clinics conveniently located in Jacksonville and Northeast FL who specialize in orthopedic rehab.
If you are interested in scheduling an appointment at JOI Rehab for physical therapy, call (904) 858-7045. Come see us!