Your Feet Are Important
The feet are the lowest part of the human body and one of the most complex structures. Our feet bear our weight and maintain our balance by means of their unique shape, enabling us to walk, run, climb, and perform various activities. The foot is made up of 26 bones that are connected by joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments.
Foot pain can be due to injury, inflammation of the muscles, joints or tendons, or as a result of overuse. Foot pain can lead to a lot of discomfort and make movement difficult if ignored. It is important to identify the cause and adopt measures to relieve your symptoms.
What Are the Causes of Foot Pain and Problems?
Lifestyle factors: Wearing ill-fitting shoes is one of the most important reasons for foot pain. Wearing high heels for long periods of time or wearing shoes that don’t offer adequate support can lead to chronic heel pain.
Arthritis: Arthritis can affect any of the 33 joints of the foot causing chronic pain and difficulty in walking.
Diabetes mellitus: Diabetics are more prone to foot problems due to multiple factors like nerve damage and clogged arteries.
Risk factors for foot pain:
If you are obese, pregnant or suffered an injury such as a fracture or a sprain, you are more prone to developing foot pain.
Other causes for foot pain include:
- Medications that can cause swelling of the feet
- Plantar fasciitis
- Gout, most often affecting the great toe.
What are the Different Types of Foot Problems?
- Heel spurs: A heel spur is a bone growth on the bottom of the heel bone. This growth commonly occurs at the point of attachment of the plantar fascia to the heel. The plantar fascia connects the heel to the ball of the toe. Overstretching of this fascia due to various causes can lead to inflammation and bone overgrowth, causing severe pain at the bottom of the heel.
- Corns are callus growths that develop at the pressure points of the sole as a result of abuse and stress. They often develop when one toe rubs against another or the sole of the shoe. They can be a source of deep discomfort and pain at the sole of the foot
- A bunion is the overgrowth of bone or tissue over a joint causing pain and deformity. Women suffer from bunions more often as a result of wearing tight-fitting shoes.
- Hammertoe causes what people refer to as foot finger pain, which occurs when your toe buckles inward, causing the middle portion of your toe to protrude out. This can cause a lot of pain and even lead to a deformity if left untreated. Hammertoe occurs most often as a result of wearing tight shoes that compress your toes.
- Plantar fasciitis: This is one of the causes of pain in the arch of the foot, and the heel and is due to inflammation of the fascia that connects the heel bone to the toes.
- Nerve compression: Lower back problems can cause compression of the nerves leading to pain from the hip to the foot.
- Ankle sprain: An ankle sprain occurs as a result of one of the ligaments at the joint. Ligaments are bands of elastic tissue that connect bones. A sprain may occur due to sudden twisting, turning or rolling beyond the range of movement, which commonly occurs while playing sports or while walking on uneven surfaces.
- Foot fractures: Most fractures of the foot don’t require active intervention except in cases of cast immobilization and heal on their own with adequate rest and support. However, complex fractures may require surgical treatment and/or splinting.
How Do You Know When Your Foot Problem Is Serious?
With so many foot problems that can be relieved by home remedies and by taking adequate rest and precautions, it is important to know when your foot pain is a sign of a more serious problem that requires medical attention. Here are some signs that you need to visit a doctor for treatment of your foot pain:
- If your foot pain is sudden and severe
- If you are unable to put any weight on your affected foot
- If the pain is immediately following an injury
- If there is an open wound along with foot pain
- If any joint in the foot is inflamed, meaning it is red and hot to touch.
- If there is a fever along with foot pain, as it may signal an underlying infection.
Treatment for Foot Pain
Most often common problems causing foot pain can be treated by taking over-the-counter medications and giving yourself adequate rest. However, serious conditions require treatments for foot pain relief such as:
- Cast application: Casts and splints are hard wraps applied on the injured area to help heal a broken bone, torn ligament or a damaged tendon. They help in keeping the injured area from moving and also ensure the broken ends of the bone are as much in line as possible to prevent deformity and ensure a speedy recovery.
- Wart removal: Plantar warts are painful warts that develop on the sole of the foot. Wart removal is a simple outpatient procedure that is painless and provides permanent relief.
- Foot and ankle problems that do not heal with conservative therapies may require active intervention and surgeries. Procedures such as joint fusion surgery, fracture surgery, tendon repairs and deformity correction surgeries may be done for relief of foot pain and to restore balance and gait.
- Plantar fasciitis, heel pain, sore feet, and various other foot problems can be relieved by physiotherapy. A qualified physiotherapist is required to ensure you do not further damage injured tissues and you are provided proper pain relief techniques.
Prevention and Foot Care
Here are some ways to keep your feet healthy and pain-free:
- Wash and moisturize your feet daily.
- Look for sores or non-healing wounds and get them checked.
- Wear the right footwear. Choose comfortable, soft and roomy shoes.
- Stretch before performing rigorous exercises to warm up your tendons and ligaments
- Maintain a healthy weight to reduce the stress on your toes or heels
We seem to give our feet the least amount of attention when compared to any other part of the body. At Narayana Health, we provide a complete check-up and screen for foot problems. Come to us to take care of the feet that keep you standing tall and give them the timely care they deserve.
Dr. Rajesh Verma | Director & Senior Consultant – Orthopaedics, Spine Surgery | Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Gurugram & Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi