Foot Pain Causes & Conditions
Foot pain is common, especially as we age. Repetitive overuse, injuries, trauma and inflammatory conditions can all contribute to foot pain causes and conditions. Even simply wearing ill-fitting shoes without ample cushioning can cause foot discomfort. At Balcones Pain Consultants, we treat many different types of foot pain causes and conditions, including injured or inflamed tendons, muscles, bones, nerves or connective tissues in the foot that trigger ongoing discomfort. Fortunately, many types of foot pain are treatable and easily managed with the help of a caring healthcare provider.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common foot pain conditions. The plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot between the heel bone and the toes. When this tissue becomes inflamed due to repetitive overuse or injury, sharp pain results. Often worst first thing in the morning, the pain is typically described as a stabbing sensation in the bottom of the foot, usually in or near the heel. Plantar fasciitis is common among runners as well as people who are overweight, those who work long hours on their feet or individuals who regularly wear flat-soled shoes with little cushioning.
Another inflammatory condition that can cause foot pain is tendinitis, which is the inflammation of the tendons connecting muscle to bone. Tendinitis can occur anywhere throughout the body, including in the foot, especially the heel. This condition can result in a dull ache or tenderness in the joint accompanied by mild swelling.
Various types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout, are also inflammatory conditions which can cause foot pain. Typically, foot pain due to arthritic conditions is characterized by tender, swollen joints that may be warm to the touch. Stiffness and loss of flexibility can also result from arthritic conditions in the foot. Sometimes, bone spurs can form—projections of bone that develop at the joints, compounding the foot pain. Gout, which typically affects the big toe joint, comes on suddenly and is often characterized by extreme tenderness or a burning sensation in the toe.
Injury and Trauma to the Foot
Injury or trauma to the foot can be another cause of acute or chronic foot pain. Broken bones, stress fractures and avulsion fractures require medical attention, and each can result in ongoing foot pain, even after the break has healed. Stretches and other controlled exercises designed to promote flexibility and restore range of motion can greatly reduce foot pain linked to these conditions.
Peripheral neuropathy and diabetic neuropathy result from nerve damage that can cause pain in the foot. Peripheral neuropathy causes weakness, numbness and burning pain in the feet and ankles. When this condition is the result of high blood sugar, it is called diabetic neuropathy. Fortunately, in the case of diabetic neuropathy, controlling blood sugar levels can also control nerve pain in the feet.
Physical malformations of the feet can also cause chronic pain. Bunions—bulging, bony bumps at the base of the biggest or littlest toe—can be inherited, or can be caused by arthritis or repetitive stress. Wearing shoes that are too narrow or tight can also cause or aggravate bunions. Similarly, flatfeet can either be inherited or develop due to injury or repetitive stress and can be aggravated by ill-fitting footwear. Flatfeet doesn’t always cause pain, but when it does, it can extend beyond the feet and affect the ankles and knees.
Hammertoe and mallet toe are toe malformations that can be caused by inherited genetics, injury or repetitive stress and aggravated by poor choices in footwear. Fortunately, pain from these conditions, along with pain from bunions and flatfeet, can be alleviated by roomier, more cushioned shoes, orthopedic footwear or orthotic inserts.
Management of Foot Pain
Some foot pain conditions can be managed at home with special stretching techniques and exercises, while others can be prevented or alleviated with proper diet and footwear. If foot pain is severe or ongoing, however, Balcones Pain Consultants can help with expert advice, targeted physical therapy and other specialized approaches.