The lower extremity consists of the knee, foot, and ankle and includes all of the joints, muscles and tendons of the thigh and lower leg. The knee consists of 4 bones and 3 joints while the foot and ankle has 26 bones and 33 joints. Normal pain free function of the lower extremity requires that all of these joints move the way they are supposed to. A problem in one part of the lower extremity can cause pain in another area. The lower extremity is like a big “chain reaction”. For example, the ankle can cause pain in the knee, hip and even up into the lower back because these areas have to work harder and compensate for the problem in the ankle. Everything does connect to and work together, just like the song.
The treatment of your lower extremity pain, whether it is thigh, knee, leg, foot, or ankle pain, starts with a specific Physical Therapy examination of the movement and strength of the many parts of the lower extremity. Initially, the focus is on normalizing the mobility of all of the bones, joints, and muscles with specific Manual Physical Therapy techniques. These are gentle yet powerful techniques designed to improve soft tissue/muscle and joint mobility to restore pain free motion to the tight and restricted areas. As more normal motion returns in one area, the other areas of the lower extremity will work better too, inflammation will decrease, and your pain will get better. It is really common for a foot and ankle problem to cause pain in the knee and hip, especially when there really hasn’t been an “injury” to the knee or hip.
Strengthening of the muscles of the lower extremity is important so that the muscles support your joints and provide the strength and stability you need to get out of a chair, walk, lift, run, bike, or even climb mountains. Lower extremity muscle strength is also very important for your balance and safety while walking or moving around in your home.
We will also give you a home exercise program to strengthen and train your muscles to prevent your problem from coming back. In addition, advice on proper shoe support and potentially orthotics, a support you can wear in your shoe, can be helpful.