Which body parts consist of 26 bones that come together to form 33 joints and are held together by a whole bunch of muscle tendons and ligaments while carrying literally all of your weight all day long? Yep, you guessed it, your foot and ankle! (1)
As you might have figured from the information above, the foot and ankle are quite the complex joints. There are a lot of moving parts that have to work together to create optimal movement, support, and shock dampening (from walking and running). Because of the complexity of the joint structure, it is also prone to have certain issues. Common ailments of the foot and ankle include bunions, plantar fasciitis, sprain/strain, neuromas, fractures, arthritis, and tendonitis. (2) Ankle and foot problems can be frustrating to deal with, as most of us are on our feet all day long and the pain/problem can be hard to get away from. Sometimes, one can even have a random pain that doesn’t fit into the “regular” categories. There is one foot and ankle problem that you don’t hear about very often, but is actually quite common.
Functional Instability of the ankle is a clinical syndrome and even though we don’t have any data as to how prevalent it is in the population, it is thought to be quite common. One journal describe it this way: “Functional instability of the ankle results from a loss of neuromuscular control. Components of neuromuscular control include proprioception, muscle strength, muscle reaction time, and postural control.” (3) Put in a simple way, the issue consist of loss of body or joint awareness, leading to decreased reaction time, balance, and ability to fire the right muscles at the right time. It can be a hard issue to diagnose because most of the symptoms are subjective and are hard to measure objectively. Functional Instability could potentially be an underlying condition, creating other issues because of the compensations that occur.
Chiropractic care has been shown to create changes in the central nervous system and how your brain’s body awareness (proprioception) functions. (4) It has also been shown to improve the sensorimotor functions and multisensory integration processes involved with fall risk in elders (meaning the risk of falling decreases). (5) Based on this, we can create a hypothesis that getting adjusted can potentially help functional instability. Creating better movement within these 33 joints that you have in your foot and ankle, as well as having a properly moving spine, can decrease any potential functional instability, create better motor control, and thereby cause less pain.
If you think you have any issues with your foot and ankle, whether it is pain, instability, or something just doesn’t feel right, ask your chiropractor about it today!
- Richie DH Jr. Functional instability of the ankle and the role of neuromuscular control: a comprehensive review. J Foot Ankle Surg. 2001 Jul-Aug;40(4):240-51. doi: 10.1016/s1067-2516(01)80025-9. PMID: 11924686.
- Haavik H, Niazi IK, Kumari N, Amjad I, Duehr J, Holt K. The Potential Mechanisms of High-Velocity, Low-Amplitude, Controlled Vertebral Thrusts on Neuroimmune Function: A Narrative Review. Medicina (Kaunas). 2021 May 27;57(6):536. doi: 10.3390/medicina57060536. PMID: 34071880; PMCID: PMC8226758.
- Holt KR, Haavik H, Lee AC, Murphy B, Elley CR. Effectiveness of Chiropractic Care to Improve Sensorimotor Function Associated With Falls Risk in Older People: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2016 May;39(4):267-78. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2016.02.003. Epub 2016 Apr 2. PMID: 27050038.