Ouch! When Every Step Hurts!
When each and every single step that you take hurts, it won’t be long before frustration and pain elsewhere start to follow. Pain in this area is a surprisingly debilitating problem for our feet serve as our foundation, working to support our body weight while simultaneously facilitating movement.
It can be tempting to ignore foot pain and hope that the problem will go away for it is not an uncommon assumption that sore feet are part of life, particularly if we’ve been exercising more than normal or wearing a new pair of shoes lately.
However, when foot pain strikes, not only does walking and participating in more vigorous activity become either uncomfortable or impossible, but day-to-day tasks that we tend not to give much thought towards can also become a constant irritation.
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Seemingly normal activities are suddenly painful – from climbing stairs to pushing down on the pedals as you drive your car, getting up from a standing position, putting on or removing shoes, going up a ladder or standing on firm surfaces – all leading to a desire for a quick and effective resolution to the problem.
In circumstances such as these, where pain is felt within the feet during most of your activities, it is important to get yourself checked out. For those with an underlying medical condition such as diabetes or neuropathy, it is particularly important to seek medical advice if pain is being experienced with the feet, ankles or legs.
Unless you are sitting or lying down, the feet are constantly dealing with bearing the weight of the rest of your body. Therefore it is easy for a small problem to develop into something that could have repercussions later in life or for years after the point of injury.
One of your best methods of action for foot pain is physical therapy.
A Physical Therapist Is Your Foot Pain Expert
Despite its sleek outer appearance, the foot is an incredibly complicated part of the body. Comprising of no less than 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, the inner workings of a foot can easily be compared to an engineering marvel.
The complexity of the feet allows us to bear the full weight of our body as we stand and move around as well as providing stability and being the primary way most of us achieve forward motion.
However, with complexity comes increased potential for problems. If something goes wrong, it doesn’t take much – either through overuse or an unexpected injury – before the resulting pain makes the whole foot seem somewhat redundant in comparison to the day-to-day efficiency that you’ve likely enjoyed up until then.
Thanks to the foot’s elaborate structure and the similarity that exists between symptoms of different issues, it can be tricky to accurately diagnose what the cause of your foot pain is. However, this is where physical therapy comes into its own.
Possessing both the specialist knowledge you require as well as the means to treat a foot pain issue after pinpointing a diagnosis, a qualified physical therapist can help you regain the ability to propel yourself through life once more. Requesting an initial consultation and assessment of your foot pain is your ideal first step.
Foot Pain: Tell Me Where It Hurts…
Often to resolve a problem, you must first establish exactly what’s wrong and when it comes to assisting with your foot pain, your physical therapist will be no different.
There are many different methods of diagnosis, ranging from X-rays, MRI scans and hands-on examination to a detailed assessment of what you’ve been up to recently that could have caused an injury.
You may also be asked about your footwear, your medical history and whether you’ve been experiencing any aches and pains elsewhere in the body lately. All of this information, as well as the results of any tests, will help narrow down the cause of the pain.
One of the key factors that will assist your physical therapist determine what issue you’re dealing with is precisely where your foot pain in located.
The foot is typically divided into three sections – the hindfoot (more commonly referred to as the heel), the midfoot (the middle region and arch of the foot) and the forefoot (the toe region). These sections work together to provide movement but each area of the foot tends to be different in the types of problems that are experienced.
Telling your physical therapist exactly where it hurts and with what activities or movements will greatly assist in determining what has happened and the treatment plan ahead. Let’s take a more detailed look …
Pain In The Hindfoot
The hindfoot is most usually known as the heel. Among medics, it is also referred to as the calcaneus.
Problems in the hindfoot tend to come from stress fractures or a condition known as plantar fasciitis.
1/ Stress Fractures
If significant pain is felt within the heel, in combination with swelling, this could indicate a stress fracture. This is particularly true if the pain does not ease despite ceasing activity.
This is an issue that generally results from overuse and is commonly seen in those who have suddenly taken on an overly demanding exercise regime as well as those undertaking sport with inadequate footwear. High BMI and other medical conditions can also cause this problem. Among athletes, stress fractures in the hindfoot are commonly experienced by those who run lengthy distances.
2/ Plantar Fasciitis
Sharp pain under the heel as well as a general ache that extends outwards from the heel to the arch of the foot is likely to stem from the condition plantar fasciitis. You’ll notice the discomfort that plantar fasciitis can bring upon firm surfaces and when climbing the stairs.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common orthopedic complaints, accounting for 40% of patients being seen in podiatry clinics. The root cause is damage to the plantar fascia, a ligament that connects your heel to the front of the foot. This supports the arch of your foot while also acting as a shock absorber as you walk.
Plantar fasciitis can be caused by too much pressure going through the feet either via repetitive motion, a body weight that’s too high, having tight calf muscles, wearing poor-fitting shoes. The plantar fascia responds by becoming inflamed, in turn causing heel pain and stiffness within the hindfoot.
Pain In The Midfoot
The midfoot comprises the middle region and arch of your foot. This area is prone to both stress fractures and issues with the tendons.
1/ Stress Fracture Of The Navicular
The navicular is a bone situated at the highest point of the arch of the foot and a fracture here can cause pain within the midfoot, an altered gait and sharp pain when standing on tiptoes or landing from jumping movements. If nearby nerves have been affected by this fracture, pain can also sometimes be felt within the heel and arch of the foot.
A stress fracture of the navicular is a common injury among elite track athletes but can also occur if you suddenly take on much more strenuous exercise than normal.
If diagnosed with this issue, you will likely need a period where the foot is spared from having to bear your weight, followed by working closely with a physical therapist on exercises that will strengthen the area around this bone and optimize mechanics and movement patterns, which will help prevent a reoccurrence of this problem.
2/ Lisfranc Fracture/Tear
When the top of the foot is painful (particularly when trying to bear weight), in combination with notable difficulty in walking, swelling and bruising, a Lisfranc fracture or tear will be suspected.
Bruising on the bottom of the foot is generally a clear indicator of this issue. A Lisfranc fracture or tear can involve a single joint or multiple bones that have been damaged in the area where your toes connect to your foot.
The most common cause of a Lisfranc fracture or tear is falling in an abnormal, twisting fashion. This kind of movement can cause bones within the midfoot to break or dislocate, often tearing ligaments as they do so.
It can be challenging or difficult to endure thanks to its potential to cause serious pain and severely limit mobility over an extended time.
3/ Extensor Tendinopathy
Extensor tendinopathies are injuries to the tendons that run along the top of your foot, which are most likely to be noticed through pain when wearing shoes as well as pain and swelling along the top of the foot and around the front of the ankle.
The tendons in this area can become overworked and aggravated by long periods of standing, a sudden increase in walking or running mileage, inadequate footwear and even laces that have been tied too tightly.
4/ Tibialis Posterior Tendinopathy
If pain is primarily focused around the ankle, with a feeling of general tightness in the same area and along the arch of your foot, you may be experiencing inflammation caused by posterior tibialis tendinopathy.
The posterior tibial tendon stretches from the lower leg and beyond the medial malleolus (the bony bump on the inside of your ankle). It is crucial in supporting you during weight-bearing. Pain is usually felt during walking as well as running and jumping.
Tibialis posterior tendinopathy is a problematic symptom that usually requires specialist support to remedy.
What Can I Do About My Foot Pain?
You can get in touch with us!
At Cardin & Miller, we specalize in addressing and treating foot pain.
We’ll get you back to health and on your feet (excuse the pun) with a physical therapy package tailored towards your exact circumstances.
Reach out anytime through our contact page. We look forward to helping you!