Foot Pain

Foot Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

The foot is one of the extremely complicated parts of the body. It consists of 26 bones linked by joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Several stresses, inflammation, pain, and injuries can adversely affect the foot and limit mobility.

What is Foot Pain?

Pain in the feet is a widespread problem. However, there are many possible causes, making it difficult to diagnose even for health care professionals. The history and symptoms of your foot pain can offer clues, but they may not be sufficient to determine a diagnosis. It becomes even more complicated if you have an underlying health issue linked to foot pain. Among these conditions are diabetes, peripheral artery disease, and neuropathy.

Whenever you are standing or walking, your feet bear a weight that increases the chances of foot pain. An individual may experience foot pain or discomfort in one or more of the following areas:

  • Heel
  • Underfoot
  • Arches
  • Toes

There are many types of foot pain. Despite this, it is not possible every time to determine the reason for foot pain based on its position. The foot can be affected by several different conditions, such as arthritis, injuries of broken bones, sprains, and strains. 

Types of Foot Pain:

Improper foot function is a leading cause of foot pain. Foot problems may be aggravated or even caused by poorly fitting shoes. Shoes that fit well and provide good support can reduce the irritability of the joints and skin of the feet. Numerous foot issues affect the heels, toes, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and foot joints. 

There may be similarities between the manifestation of foot issues and those of other medical situations. You must seek professional medical advice whenever possible.

Heel Spurs:

Heel spurs are the heel bone’s growths that are typically located underneath the heel bone, where it is connected to the plantar fascia. This is a long continuous band of connective tissue that connects the heel to the ball of the foot.

As a shock absorber, this connective tissue holds the arch together. When the plantar fascia is overstressed due to running, wearing poorly-fitting shoes, or being obese, it can cause stress, swelling of the tissue pulling on the bone, and lead to severe foot pain. The body constructs extra bone due to this stress, causing heel spurs. There are several treatment options available, including:

  • Take Rest
  • Use of anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Cold Therapy
  • Corticosteroid Injections
  • Stretching before physical activities
  • Fitted and comfy Footwear
  • Surgery (In severe conditions when other medical treatments did not work well)

Stone Bruises:

Stone bruises are deep bruises on the fat pad of the heel or ball of the foot. Often, it’s caused by an impact injury, but it can also occur after stepping on something rough. It feels like you’re walking on pebbles. The pain goes away on its own over time. 

Meanwhile:

  • Take a break from walking
  • Apply ice AND
  • You can also take over-the-counter pain relievers.

Osteoarthritis:

Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the cartilage in a joint is destroyed due to wear and tear. As a result, there is a reduction in joint space, worn cartilage, and bone spurs around the joint. 

Foot osteoarthritis can cause pain and restricted mobility in the ankle, subtalar, and big toe joints. Osteoarthritis is characterized by various symptoms, including pain, stiffness, vibrations, grinding sounds when moving the joint, and swelling that usually worsens when exercising. Your joint cartilage naturally thins and deteriorates with growing age. Having a family history of osteoarthritis and obesity may also increase the risk. 

In the beginning, simple measures can be used to treat osteoarthritis of the foot. Here are some examples: 

  • Lifestyle change includes exercise and weight loss
  • Taking NSAIDs
  • Having physical therapy
  • Wearing custom orthotics to reduce pain
  • Using the assistive device to improve mobility
  • Having arthroscopy procedure or joint replacement surgery (if the pain does not go away with other treatment options).

Hammer Toes:

Hammertoes occur when the middle joint of the afflicted toe pokes out due to the toe buckling. A tight-fitting shoe that puts compulsion on the hammertoe can aggravate it. Various factors can cause it. A too tight, too short, or too pointed shoe will push your toes out of balance. Other than that, arthritis, polio, high arches, and alcoholism are also the reasons for hammertoes. Hammertoes can be treated with the following options:

  • Placing a cushion over the bony protrusion
  • Wearing shoes that accommodate the deformity
  • Surgery

Bunion:

Bunions are protrusions of bone or tissue across a joint that can happen at the base of the great toe or the bottom of the small toe and are often the result of long-term stress on the joint. It is most common in women because they frequently wear tight, pointed, and confining shoes. Another cause of bunions is arthritis, which usually afflicts the big toe joint. Bunions can be treated differently depending on the seriousness of pain and deformity. Some treatment options involve:

  • Wear comfortable and well-fitting shoes (especially those that accommodate the foot’s shape and do not cause pressure points).
  • Surgery (not for cosmetic reasons but pain).
  • Using pads in the affected areas
  • Anti-inflammatory Medicines

Big Toe Pain:

Many conditions affect the big toe, including broken bones, strains, sprains, arthritis, and similar conditions. Nevertheless, if the pain is limited to the greater toe and the top of the toe is of utmost pain, the issue may be ingrown toenails. Ingrown toenails occur when the sides of the toenail grow into the skin. It can be very distressful and may lead to infection or inflammation. To diagnose an ingrown toenail, an individual should look for inflammation on one side of the toe and pain when pressing on the nail. 

It is essential not to dig into the nail bed with scissors to cut out an ingrown nail. An individual must visit a physician who can remove an ingrown portion of the nail or prescribe antibiotics in case of an infection. By avoiding short or angled toenail cuts, people can prevent future ingrown nails.

Achilles tendonitis:

A tendon is a cord-like structure that anchors muscles to bone. Tendonitis can occur when they are overstretched or overused. Achilles tendonitis is inflammation or irritation of the Achilles tendon. Situated on the heel bone of the foot, this tendon joins the calf muscles and lower leg muscles. During activity or stretching, this condition causes burning or aching pain. Pain is usually felt when the tendon is touched. There may also be mild swelling, warmth, and stiffness over the tendon. When a tendon tears and weakens, it causes tendonitis.

A variety of factors may cause Achilles tendonitides, such as a sudden increase in your exercise regimen, tight calf muscle, unfitted shoes, cold-weather training, and different leg lengths.

Foot Pain Treatment:

The following home remedies and therapies can be used to treat Achilles tendonitis:

  • Rest, ice, compression of the nerve, and elevating the foot is the R.I.C.E. protocol.
  • Wearing properly fitted shoes and protecting the injury.
  • Use of NSAIDs such as Advil or Aleve.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about heel lift orthotics and physical therapy once the acute pain subsides.
  • A specialized exercise program, the Alfredson protocol, may be recommended.
  • A ruptured Achilles tendon may require surgery.

If you have persistent problems that affect your quality of life, immediately see a healthcare provider. Studies have shown that foot pain can negatively affect a person’s mood, risk of falling, and quality of life.

References:

  • https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/foot-pain-and-problems retrieved on March 14, 2022.
  • https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/foot-pain-causes-and-treatments retrieved on March 14, 2022. 
  • https://www.verywellhealth.com/painful-foot-conditions-1337744 retrieved on March 14, 2022.
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