Soft Tissue / Nerve

What are soft tissue disorders?

The soft tissues in the body include the muscles, tendons (connecting muscle to bone), ligaments (connecting bone to bone), fascia (separating or binding muscles and organs), nerves, skin and blood vessels. There are many medical problems that can affect these soft tissues.

Symptoms of soft tissue disorders

Symptoms of soft tissue disorders vary depending on the particular condition involved. The most common symptoms are pain, swelling, numbness and impaired mobility.

Types of soft tissue disorders

Some of the soft tissue disorders that can affect the region of the foot include:

  • Achilles tendonitis: inflammation of the tendon that connects the lower leg calf muscles to the heel, leading to heel pain during activity
  • Ankle sprain: injury caused due to tearing of a ligament in the ankle resulting in pain, swelling and bruising
  • Morton’s neuroma: thickening of the nerve tissue between the third and fourth toes causing a tingling sensation between the associated toes, sharp shooting pain in the ball of the foot and toe cramping
  • Infections: redness, swelling, rash, open wounds
  • Plantar fasciitis: tear of the plantar fascia tissue that extends from the heel bone towards the toes, causing pain and stiffness at the bottom of the heel, and difficulty walking or standing
  • Tendonitis: inflammation of the foot tendons, causing pain and swelling during stretching or any activity
  • Compartment syndrome: numbness or tingling, swelling, severe pain that increases with exercise, diminished pulses and weakness

Causes of soft tissue disorders

Soft tissue disorders of the foot and ankle may be caused due to foot structure, overuse or repeated physical trauma to the soft tissues, partial or complete ligament tears, or fungal, bacterial and viral infections, to name a few. Certain sports activities and diseases such as diabetes can also cause soft tissue disorders.

Diagnosis of soft tissue disorders

Your doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical examination of your feet. X-ray‘s and/or MRI scan may be ordered depending on your ailment and general health. Blood tests may also be required, if certain forms of arthritis or inflammation-related conditions are suspected.

Treatment of soft tissue disorders

Some of the disorders to the soft tissues of the foot and ankle respond well to conservative treatment. R.I.C.E, i.e. Rest, Ice (application of ice to minimise inflammation), Compression (application of a bandage to provide mild support), and Elevation (raising the injured area above the level of the heart as much as possible) is a common conservative treatment recommended by your doctor. Your physician may also prescribe medications specific to your disorder, or to reduce pain and discomfort, as well as order physical therapy if indicated.

Prevention of soft tissue disorders

Many of the soft tissue disorders in the foot can be prevented. Take care in choosing your shoes: avoid ill-fitting and uncomfortable shoes. Balance training, foot stretching exercises before activity, and muscle strengthening exercises can also be taken up in consultation with a physical therapist.