By Medicover Hospitals / 10 Mar 2021
Foot pain is physical discomfort in the foot. Foot pain can have causes that are not due to an underlying disease. Examples include poorly fitting shoes, extended periods on the feet, excessive use of such as long walks or a marathon, sprains, strains, or trauma.
- When to visit a Doctor?
- Home remedies
- Foot pain can come from several causes. Foot pain can develop due to conditions affecting any structures of the foot, including the skin, nerves, muscles, joints, tendons, bones, ligaments, blood vessels, and connective tissue. Trauma or injury is a common cause of foot pain. Even everyday situations, such as overuse or poorly fitting shoes, can lead to temporary, sharp pain in the feet.
- Foot pain can be described as sharp, stabbing, dull, or stabbing. It may also look like a tingling or burning sensation, which is common in conditions like diabetes that can damage peripheral nerves (peripheral neuropathy). Foot pain can be mild to severe and only appear at certain times of the day or when you do certain activities. Moving your foot or ankle can make or relieve pain. With severe pain from traumatic injuries, it may be impossible to move the affected foot at all.
- In some cases, the pain in the foot is localized. Yet even when the pain is limited to one foot, it can only occur on the top of the foot (back), lower foot, heel, ankle, or toes. Plantar fasciitis is an example of a condition in which pain is felt primarily in the lower heel.
- Foot pain can be acute or become chronic. In some situations, foot pain can occur as a result of chronic conditions you may have that affect your whole body, such as arthritis, vascular disease, or diabetes.
- Although life-threatening complications from foot pain are rare, seek immediate medical attention for injuries that involve heavy bleeding or tissue damage. In rare cases, infections of the bone (osteomyelitis) or the skin and soft tissue (cellulitis) of the foot can spread throughout the body, causing shock and organ failure. Another rare but potentially fatal cause of foot pain is a cancer of the bones or soft tissues of the foot.
- If your foot injury or condition is persistent, recurring, or worries you, see a doctor right away.
Foot pain can occur because of certain lifestyle choices or a medical condition. Common causes include:
One of the major causes of foot pain is wearing tight-fitting shoes. Wearing high heel shoes can often cause foot pain because they put a lot of pressure on the toes.
You can also develop foot pain if you injure yourself during high-impact exercise or sports activities, such as jogging or strenuous aerobics.
Common Medical Problems:
Various medical problems are closely associated with foot pain.
Diabetes mellitus can also lead to complications and several foot disorders. People with diabetes are more prone to:
You are also at greater risk of suffering from foot pain if you:
- Nerve damage in the feet
- Blocked or hardened arteries in the legs and feet
- Foot ulcers or sores
Other potential causes of foot pain include:
- You are overweight or obese
- You are pregnant
- You have a foot injury such as a sprain, fracture, or tendonitis
- Ingrown toenails
- Medicines that cause swelling in the feet
- Morton's neuroma, which thickens around the nerve tissue between the toes near the sole
- Athlete's foot
- Haglund's deformity, which is an enlargement of the back of the heel bone
- Peripheral arterial disease
- Fallen arches
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Gout, particularly affecting the big toe near the sole
To diagnose plantar fasciitis, your doctor will ask you questions about your foot pain, such as where exactly it is, and if the pain gets worse in the morning after waking up.
Next, your doctor will perform a physical exam, which will include pressing the ball of your foot as you bend it to see if it can cause tenderness in the plantar fascia.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome:
The diagnosis of tarsal tunnel syndrome is usually based on a medical history and a physical exam.3 Sometimes imaging tests are ordered to see if a structural abnormality is present in the foot. Nerve studies like electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity (NCV) can also be considered.
The diagnosis of metatarsalgia is based on a medical history and a physical examination. Imaging tests are only used if other diagnoses are being considered, such as a bone fracture, tumor, or cyst.
In addition to a medical history and a physical exam, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is sometimes used to diagnose Morton's neuroma.
A medical history and a physical exam are used to diagnose Achilles tendonitis. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be prescribed if your doctor suspects an Achilles tendon rupture, which occurs when the tendon fibers tear and separate.
A medical history and physical exam, along with an imaging test (usually an x-ray), are used to diagnose osteoarthritis of the foot.
The treatment of plantar fasciitis involves the following simple self-care strategies:
If the pain persists, your doctor may consider injecting a steroid into the sensitive area of your foot. Surgery, which involves releasing part of the plantar fascia from its attachment to the heel bone, is rarely performed.
- Reduce activity
- Apply ice
- Take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)
- Wear a shoe with a cushioned sole with gel inserts or heel cups
- Wear a supportive shoe, even in the house, and avoid slippers or walking barefoot
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome:
A variety of non-surgical therapies are used to treat tarsal tunnel syndrome, including:
Surgery is considered if the nerve pain is severe or persistent, despite conservative therapies.
Wearing metatarsal pads is the main treatment for metatarsalgia. Surgery may be considered if other treatments do not help.
- RICE. protocol (rest, ice, nerve compression, and elevation of the foot above the heart)
- Take an NSAID, such as Advil (ibuprofen) or Aleve (naproxen)
- Steroid injection
- Wear custom shoe inserts, especially if you have flat feet
- Wear an orthosis or a cast to immobilize the foot
Appropriate shoe inserts that decrease the pressure on the toe bones can relieve the pain of Morton's neuroma. A more spacious, wide-toed shoe that allows the toes to extend can also help. Sometimes, if the pain persists, your doctor may inject a steroid into the affected area.
The last step if the simple methods above do not provide the relief they recommend is surgery. Surgery involves removing a small part of the affected nerve or releasing the tissue surrounding the nerve.
Treatment for Achilles tendonitis involves a combination of these home therapies: RICE. protocol (reduced activity or rest, ice, compressing the tendon with an elastic bandage or duct tape, elevating the ankle above your heart)
Once the acute pain has subsided, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor about heel orthotics and physiotherapy. The Alfredson Protocol, a specialized exercise program, may be recommended.
Surgical repair is reserved for a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Osteoarthritis of the foot is first managed by simple measures, such as:
Surgery, arthroscopy, or joint fusion or replacement is considered if pain persists or if daily functioning is significantly affected.
- Lifestyle changes (eg, weight loss if overweight or obese and choice of activities and exercises that are gentle on the feet, such as swimming or cycling)
- Take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)
- Physical therapy
- Wear a personalized orthosis to reduce pain
- Use an assistive device to facilitate mobility
When to visit a Doctor?
Even relatively mild foot pain can be quite debilitating, at least at first. It is generally safe to try simple home remedies for a while.
Seek immediate medical attention if you:
- You have severe pain or swelling
- You have an open sore or a sore oozing pus
- Have signs of infection, such as redness, warmth, and tenderness in the affected area or you have a fever over 100 F (37.8 C)
- Are unable to walk or put weight on your foot
- You have diabetes and have a sore that does not heal or is deep, red, swollen, or warm to the touch
The following steps can help relieve your foot pain:
The other steps in-home care will depend on the cause of your foot pain.
The following steps can prevent foot problems and foot pain:
- Apply ice to reduce pain and swelling.
- Keep your painful foot elevated as much as possible.
- Reduce your activity until you feel better.
- Wear shoes that are suitable for your feet and appropriate for the activity you are doing.
- Wear pads to prevent chafing and irritation.
- Use an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes with good arch support and good cushioning.
- Wear shoes with plenty of room around the ball of the foot and toes, a wide toe area.
- Avoid narrow-toed shoes and high heels.
- Wear sneakers as often as possible, especially when walking.
- Replace running shoes frequently.
- Warm-up and cool down during the exercise. Always stretch first.
- Stretch your Achilles tendon. A tight Achilles tendon can lead to poor foot mechanics.
- Slowly increase your amount of exercise over time to avoid putting too much pressure on your feet.
- Stretch the plantar fascia or the bottom of your feet.
- Lose weight if you need to.
- Learn exercises to strengthen your feet and avoid pain. It can help flat feet and other potential foot problems.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Injury, overuse, or conditions causing inflammation involving any of the bones, ligaments, or tendons in the foot can cause foot pain. Arthritis is a common cause of foot pain. Injury to the nerves in the feet can cause severe pain, numbness, or tingling.
Visible burning or swelling sensations may show kidney, heart, or circulatory problems. Foot pain and burning feet are a sign that your blood circulation is not working well. If this happens to you, make an appointment with your podiatrist immediately.
Popular over-the-counter NSAIDs include aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), and naproxen (Aleve). If you take an NSAID just for pain relief, expect to take a low dose for a limited time - usually until the pain goes away.
Many systemic diseases such as diabetes, lupus, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis can cause foot pain. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause painful inflammation in the joints of the foot, accompanied by changes in alignment that lead to deformities of the foot.
Foot Pain - https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/148/7/657/148386?login=true
Foot Pain- https://agsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1532-5415.1995.tb06092.x
Foot Pain - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/art.24733