Chronic foot pain: When to seek treatment

The foot is an incredible piece of engineering. It is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Your feet support you through every step of your journey. They endure hours of standing and miles of walking and bear the weight of your entire body. The parts of your foot work together to help provide support, stability and flexibility. The heel bone absorbs shock, the arches offer balance, and the network of tendons and ligaments enable movement. You may take your feet for granted and not pay them much attention until you face chronic pain

Causes of chronic foot pain

Chronic foot pain affects up to 36% of people. It can be caused by a variety of issues, such as:

  • Plantar fasciitis — The plantar fascia is a connective tissue band connecting the heel bone to the toes. When this band becomes inflamed, it can cause a stabbing pain in the heel. 
  • Achilles tendinitis — The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon that connects the calf muscle to the back of the lower leg. When this tendon experiences overuse or repeated stress, it can become inflamed and cause pain at the back of the heel. 
  • Flat feet — Flat feet is a condition where one or both feet have little to no arch. The arches help support the foot. Lacking this support can cause strain on the muscles and ligaments in the feet. 
  • Bunions — A bunion is a bony growth that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe. It happens when some bones in the front part of the foot move out of place. 
  • Morton’s neuromaMorton’s neuroma is a thickening of the tissue around a nerve that connects the toes to the rest of the foot. It causes pain in the toes and the ball of the foot. 
  • Sprains and fractures — These can be caused by accidents or overuse. They can cause acute or chronic pain. 
  • ArthritisArthritis causes pain and inflammation in the joints. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that is caused by wear and tear of the cartilage, in this case in the foot and ankle. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that affects the joints throughout the body.
  • Gout — Gout is a form of arthritis that can cause sudden and severe pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in the joints. 

When you should seek help for your chronic foot pain

Ignoring and pushing through chronic foot pain may be tempting, especially if you are used to pushing through the discomfort. However, it’s important to seek medical help if you experience:

  • Persistent pain — If the foot pain persists for more than a couple of days after rest and home remedies, seek medical attention.
  • Difficulty walking — If your foot pain hinders your ability to walk or bear weight on the affected foot, it’s a sign you need medical attention. 
  • Swelling and redness — Swelling, redness or warmth can all be indicators of inflammation or infection. These require a medical evaluation to rule out potential severe issues.
  • Limited range of motion — If you find yourself unable to move your foot or toes normally, it could suggest an underlying issue that needs medical attention. 
  • Numbness or tingling — If you begin to experience numbness or tingling, it could indicate a compressed nerve. Compressed nerves shouldn’t be ignored. 

Why you shouldn’t ignore chronic foot pain

Your feet are the foundation of your body. Ignoring chronic foot pain is like ignoring cracks in the foundation of your house. Chronic pain isn’t just an inconvenience. It’s your body trying to communicate with you that something is going on. Ignoring this signal can lead to worsening conditions, decreased mobility and potentially an impact on your overall quality of life. Untreated foot issues can cause an abnormal gait. This abnormality can then lead to further issues that could affect your knees, hips and spine. Seeking prompt care when you are having chronic foot pain can help relieve pain and prevent other health issues from developing. 

How to treat chronic foot pain

Treating chronic foot pain can be a multifaceted approach. This allows treatments to be customized to the specific underlying condition causing your pain. These treatments can include:

  • Rest and elevation.
  • Ice therapy.
  • Orthotic inserts.
  • Proper footwear.
  • Physical therapy.

Physical therapy techniques that can be beneficial for chronic foot pain

Physical therapy can provide a plethora of techniques that can be tailored to address specific underlying issues causing chronic foot pain. These techniques include:

  • Therapeutic exercises — Physical therapists can recommend specific stretches and exercises that are intended to help improve the flexibility of tight muscles and tendons, reduce strain, and strengthen weak muscles. This can help improve the support in your foot and overall stability. 
  • Manual therapyManual therapy techniques like soft tissue mobilization and joint mobilization can help release muscle tension, improve circulation, promote healing, and reduce stiffness and discomfort. 
  • Balance training — Balance exercises can help improve your stability. This can help reduce your risk of falling and boost your overall foot function. 

Let Continuum Wellness help you take steps to a less painful life

Chronic foot pain doesn’t need to keep you inconvenienced. Continuum Wellness can help you understand your feet’s signals and find the root cause. Our team of physical therapy experts can then design a customized treatment care plan to help you take a step toward less pain. We understand the impact foot pain can have on your life, and we strive to provide you with top-notch care to have you putting your best foot forward. 

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.

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