FAQ’s on Foot Pain
Pain occurring in either of the feet is one of the most commonly treated ailments in our clinic. The foot is composed of numerous bones, tendons, and muscles that interlock and work together to support the body, creating a large number of areas where complications can occur to cause a patient pain.
Each potential cause of pain will have a different diagnostic method and treatment plan. Patients who are having pain in their feet are strongly encouraged to contact our clinic so that an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan can be developed to provide symptomatic relief in order to get patients back on their feet pain-free once more.
What are the causes of Foot Pain?
The Toes: The primary cause of pain in the toes of our patients is arthritic inflammation, which the most frequent source of inflammation being the presence of gout in the toes. Gout is a condition related to the formation of uric acid crystals in the knuckles of the toe, which can be a severely painful experience that can produce symptoms with every step. Gout is commonly caused due to an imbalance of uric acid in the blood.
The Heel: The largest cause of pain in the heel of the foot, which is an area where pain occurs most for patients, is plantar fasciitis. The plantar fasciitis is the tissue connecting the toes to the heel, forming the arch of the foot. If this tissue becomes irritated or inflamed, patients will feel pain during each step and may lose some functionality of the foot. A second, commonly seen, cause of pain in the heel is the presence of heel spurs. These are abnormal growths of bone occurring on the bottom of the heel, which primarily occur due to poorly fitting shoes or to the patient having an uneven gait.
The Arch: Plantar fasciitis, as mentioned above, is the single largest cause of pain in the arch of the foot as well. Arch pain may also be caused by the patient having fallen arches (known as flat feet), causing the arches to be directly impacted upon with each step.
The Ball of the Foot: The primary cause of pain in the ball of the foot is metatarsalgia (Metatarsalgia, 2010), also known as inflammation in the ball of the foot. Inflammation can occur here due to shoes that do not properly support the feet, or if a patient has continual strenuous activity with their feet. Pain in the ball may also be caused due to a thickening of the tissue that houses nerves between the toes, which is known as Morton’s neuroma.
What are the symptoms of Foot Pain and how is it diagnosed?
The main symptoms of pain in the foot will differ based on which part of the foot symptoms are occurring in, with diagnostic effort tailored to the location. The most common diagnostic tools used include physical examination of the foot, with tests given for functionality and tenderness, and the use of imaging techniques to examine both the bones and soft tissue of the feet. Patients who may be experiencing gout will have blood-work done to examine for elevated levels of uric acid.
What are the treatment options for Foot Pain?
- Common methods of treatment include painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication given for symptomatic management, and a strong encouragement to rest the feet as much as possible in the following days.
- Patients who have lost partial function, or who are experiencing symptoms from a chronic condition, may be placed in a physical therapy program to assist in strengthening the foot. Some patients may receive footwear specifically tailored to their feet to provide them better support during movement, such as is the case with heel spurs which will require a specialty shoe insert to maintain relief.
- Newer regenerative treatments have also started to be used, with platelet rich plasma therapy directly successful in treating chronic plantar fasciitis in patients (Successful use of platelet-rich plasma for chronic plantar fasciitis, 2013). Other effective treatments for patients with pain due to plantar fasciitis include rest and physical therapy to instruct patients on exercises that can assist with providing pain relief. Having our clinic assist in the development of an exercise regime is a very reliable method of obtaining pain relief for the heel.
- Patients who do not react well to conservative treatments may be eligible to receive a radiofrequency ablation procedure, which is the carefully controlled destruction of the pain causing nerve to provide a therapeutic relief (Prospective study of percutaneous radiofrequency nerve ablation for chronic plantar fasciitis, 2014).
- Patients with pain in the toes due to Morton’s neuroma may receive steroidal injections into the tissue to help reduce inflammation. Other viable treatments include wearing shoes that have larger toe boxes, the use of orthopedic shoe inserts which our clinic can provide, injections to block the nerve that is acting as a source of pain, and potentially surgery to remove this nerve for patients who are experiencing chronic pain. Patients with pain due to gout may be able to reduce their pain with a simple change in diet and select medications (Gout–what are the treatment options, 2009).