If you’re an active person, you’ve most likely heard of, or even experienced, a pulled muscle. It’s a painful problem that can put you out of commission for a while, depending on how bad the damage is. Most people think of their hamstrings or other large muscle groups when it comes to a muscle strain. Don’t forget that your feet have muscles and tendons, too—and they can strain as well.
Pulling Your Leg—or a Foot—Isn’t Always a Joke
A strain is an injury that over-stretches a muscle or even a tendon. This is similar to a sprain, which affects ligaments. A strain can be the result of overuse, fatigue, improper use of a muscle, or a sudden accident. The damage can be small, or you can partially tear or completely rupture the tissue. You have plenty of muscles and major tendons in the feet and ankles, which means you have many opportunities and places to strain your lower limbs.
Muscle or tendon strains are painful and can leave you limping. If the damage was the result of an accident or sudden injury, the pain will be sharp and immediate. If the damage accumulates over time from overuse or fatigue, the discomfort may build for a while. Either way, you end up with soreness in the affected muscle—or tendon, as the case may be. Typically, the discomfort limits your range of movement. Most likely you’ll develop swelling, stiffness, and weakness. It might feel like your tissues have become knotted. You may or may not have bruising, too, depending on the severity of the injury.
Degrees of Injury
Also like sprains, strains have different degrees of seriousness. They can be mild, moderate, or severe, which may also determine how the injury is treated. A mild strain simply over-stretches the muscle or tendon. A moderate condition may involve partial tearing in the tissue and be more debilitating. A severe injury can completely rupture the muscle or tendon and cause significant pain and damage. No matter how bad the original problem is, though, the issue can get worse and cause long-term weakness and pain unless it’s treated.
Recovering from the Damage
Correctly taking care of a muscle strain or an over-stretched tendon is the best way to get back on your feet without pain. Dr. Sanjay Patel and the expert staff at Family Foot Care & Surgery, L.L.C. will examine your lower limbs to determine which tissues are affected and to what degree. Various tests will allow us to rule out other conditions as well. Then we can help you begin targeted treatment to restore your lower limbs.
Basic RICE therapy—resting, icing, compressing, and elevating—is an important first step. Stop all activities that cause discomfort until your feet have recovered. Ice the painful area frequently, especially at first; the cold on the muscles or tendons will limit painful inflammation and swelling. Wrap your foot in a compression bandage and keep it propped up as much as possible. This will also discourage swelling. We may recommend anti-inflammatory medications to help as well. As the affected structures heal, you’ll most likely need physical therapy to stretch and strengthen your lower limbs. Stretching is especially important, since injured muscles tend to tighten—which increases your risk for additional injuries. If your lower limbs are not healing with conservative therapies, you may need surgery to repair the damage.
You don’t have to limp around with an aching, weakened foot. You can take care of the muscle strain or any other damage and restore your lower limbs to full strength. Don’t wait until the issue becomes chronic to seek help. Contact Dr. Sanjay Patel and the experts at Family Foot Care & Surgery, L.L.C. for an appointment to take care of the condition. Just use the online request form or call (203) 876-7736 for our Milford office, or (203) 288-4055 for our Hamden location.