Feet. They carry you from here to there every day. But you may not think much about them until they hurt. And when they do, you want relief. To get the right treatment, you need to know the problem.
As shock absorbers, our feet cushion up to one million pounds of pressure during a single hour of strenuous exercise. They also support 1.5 times our body weight during walking and running activities. It is not hard to see why our feet are highly susceptible to injury.
If you wake up and suddenly feel pain in your feet, what is going on? Why do your feet hurt, and how can a physical therapist help treat your foot pain?
Foot pain is a frequent reason why people visit their podiatrist or orthopedic physician. With over 26 bones, 33 joints, and five ligaments, there are many structures that can be injured in the foot. When these structures become injured or overstressed, pain may result, and limited functional mobility can occur.
The structure of the foot changes as we get older or if arthritis affects the foot joints, and many people will notice changes, particularly in the arch of the foot. Foot pain is alarmingly common: 77 percent of people say they have experienced significant foot pain, according to research by the American Podiatric Medical Association. But it seems like no one’s taking it seriously: Just a third of those surveyed by the APMA say they would seek actually care for foot pain.
So, let's get to the bottom of why your feet hurt.
If your pain is in your heel, you may have plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot pain. It results from irritation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, that runs across the bottom of your foot. It connects your heel bone to your toes. People with plantar fasciitis experience pain across the bottom of the foot or arch, typically near the inner part of the heel. Discomfort with plantar fasciitis is more common in the morning after waking up and with strenuous exercise like running, although you may feel the heel pain while simply walking.
WHAT CAUSES PLANTAR FASCIITIS?
Plantar fasciitis is one of those injuries that magically seems to appear for no apparent reason. However, plantar fasciitis is caused by one of two methods. They are either traction or compression injuries.
Plantar fasciitis is most often associated with impact and running sports, especially those that involve toe running rather than heel running styles.
It is also commonly diagnosed in individuals with poor foot biomechanics that stress the plantar fascia. Flat feet or weak foot arch control muscles are two common causes of plantar fasciitis.
RISK FACTORS FOR PLANTAR FASCIITIS
You are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis if you are:
- Middle-Aged or Older - With ageing the arch of your foot may begin to sag – putting extra stress on the plantar fascia.
- Active - Long walks, running and sports in general place excessive stress on the heel bone and attached tissue, especially if you have tight calf muscles or a stiff ankle from a previous ankle sprain (you can have multiple minor ankle sprains in your lifetime without even classifying them as sprains) , which limits ankle movement.
- Overweight - Carrying around extra weight increases the strain and stress on your plantar fascia.
- On your feet - Having a job that requires a lot of walking or standing on hard surfaces like factory workers, teachers and waitresses.
- Arthritis - Some types of arthritis can cause inflammation in the tendons in the bottom of your foot, which may lead to plantar fasciitis.
- Diabetes - Although doctors don't know why plantar fasciitis occurs more often in people with diabetes.
PLANTAR FASCIITIS TREATMENT
The good news is that plantar fasciitis is reversible and very successfully treated. About 90 percent of people with plantar fasciitis improve significantly within two months of initial treatment.
Exercises for plantar fasciitis may include stretching, strengthening, and balance exercises.
TO TREAT IT:
- Rest your foot
- Do heel and foot muscle stretches
- Wear shoes with good arch support and a cushioned sole
- Wear Ankle Compression Sleeves
Using special compression ankle sleeves can help in decreasing the pain and help you move better and feel better.
But remember: healing is a slow process and you need patience in order to feel better and recover faster.
Pushing yourself to the limit while trying to get this problem fixed is a bad decision.
Achilles Tendonitis is a term that commonly refers to an inflammation of the Achilles tendon or its covering. It is an overuse injury that is common especially to joggers and jumpers, due to the repetitive action and so may occur in other activities that requires the same repetitive action.
Most tendon injuries are the result of gradual wear and tear to the tendon from overuse or ageing. Anyone can have a tendon injury, but people who make the same motions over and over in their jobs, sports, or daily activities are more likely to damage a tendon.
A tendon injury can happen suddenly or little by little. You are more likely to have a sudden injury if the tendon has been weakened over time.
Achilles tendonitis may be felt as a burning pain at the beginning of an activity, which gets less during activity and then worsens following activity. The tendon may feel stiffness first thing in the morning or at the beginning of some exercise.
- Achilles tendonitis usually causes pain, stiffness, and loss of strength in the affected area
- The pain may get worse when you use your Achilles tendon
- You may have more pain and stiffness during the night or when you get up in the morning
- The area may be tender, red, warm, or swollen if there is inflammation
- You may notice a crunchy sound or feeling when you use the tendon
TO TREAT IT:
- Rest your foot for a long period of time
- Ice the area
- Compression provided by Ankle Sleeves helps a lot
- Surgery is rarely needed
Metatarsalgia is a condition used to describe a painful foot condition in the area just before the toes, or the ball-of-the-foot. It is called metatarsalgia because the bones in this region of the foot are named the metatarsals. With prolonged jumping or running activities, an increased stress load is placed on this region. Over time, the metatarsal bones become swollen and pain results.
TO TREAT IT:
- Take pain relievers
- Use a special Ankle Compression Sleeve
- Ice and rest your foot
- Wear comfortable footwear
- Try shoe inserts to relieve pressure on the ball of your foot
Arthritis is an umbrella term for over 100 medical conditions that affect your joints.
Arthritis-related problems include pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to joint cartilage (the tissue that covers the ends of bones, enabling them to move against each another) and surrounding structures. Arthritis can result in muscle weakness, joint instability and physical deformities. These physical deficits can interfere with your most basic daily tasks such as walking and eating. Plus, it can limit your ability and drive a car, open jars, reach high shelves, put on your shoes etc.
The number of people suffering from arthritis is growing as our population lives longer. There is a belief that arthritis is simply a consequence of age. But it is not simply a natural part of ageing. In fact, there are millions of working age sufferers.
However, early diagnosis seems to be a key to better management of your arthritis. Research suggests that early intervention can delay the onset of the disease and may reduce the number of cases of osteoarthritis.
There is no known cure for arthritis. However arthritis is usually manageable, but can impact on your quality of life and includes varying degrees of discomfort and pain.
With accurate assessment and early treatment, most arthritis sufferers respond effectively to physiotherapy allowing you to quickly resume pain-free and normal activities of daily living.
Wearing Ankle Compression Sleeves is something that can help you a lot as well, as the Ankle Sleeve applies even pressure across the entire joint, offering the best ankle support and maintaining strong joint stability regardless of activity.