“Foot Pain Relief At Last!” By Nathan Wei
“As an arthritis specialist, one area that I see people complain about more often than almost any other, is their feet.” So says Dr. Nathan Wei, Clinical Director of The Arthritis and Osteoporosis Center of Maryland. “This is too bad because there are many treatments that can be helpful,” Dr. Wei adds.
The foot is made up of 26 bones and 39 muscles…
The foot and ankle are designed to bear weight. The multiple joints in the feet are capable of adjusting to almost any terrain and the padding in the feet are designed to absorb shock.. The ankle joint allows the foot to move up and down, side to side, and inward and outward (inversion and eversion).
Not All Foot Pain Comes From The Foot!
Careful examination of the low back, hip, and knee should be performed because pain from these areas may affect the foot and ankle. In particular, pinched nerves in the low back can cause foot pain and weakness.
Ankle sprains are common- 25,000 people sprain an ankle every day! The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and prevent instability. Treatment of an acute sprain consists of rest, ice compression and elevation (“RICE”). Exercises to help stabilize and strengthen the ankle should be started.
Arthritis of the ankle may cause recurrent pain and swelling. Pain from arthritis typically is made worse by weight-bearing particularly on uneven ground. What this means is you should try to avoid excessive walking or running on uneven ground. Anti-inflammatory medication and proper foot support can do wonders.
Pain in the ball of the foot has many causes…
Foot strain occurs when a person “overdoes it.” And the treatment is pretty straightforward. Rest.
Morton’s neuroma (a benign nerve tumor usually located between the 3rd and 4th toes)
Tarsal tunnel syndrome (pinched nerve in the ankle)
Other common causes of foot pain include:
Stress fractures may occur after excessive walking.
Achilles tendonitis causes pain in the back of the heel. Treatment consists of anti-inflammatory medicines, rest, a heel lift, and gentle stretching.
Plantar fasciitis causes pain in the bottom of the heel. Treatment includes rest, anti-inflammatory medication, heel cup, orthotics, stretching, and local steroid injection.
Muscle strengthening exercises and orthotics are helpful. Two other common problems are:
Osteoarthritis, particularly common in the big toe. The big toe will point out to the side. When bursitis alongside the great toe joint develops, this condition is referred to as a bunion. Treatment involves proper padding and footwear. In extreme cases, surgery is required.
Neuropathy. This painful condition is particularly common in diabetics. This occurs when the small nerves in the feet are damaged. Symptoms include burning, tingling, and pain in the feet – worse at night.
Well fitted orthotics (arch supports) can alleviate not only foot and ankle pain but pain in the knees, hips, low back, and neck!!
We often take the ability to walk for granted. This ability involves the use of two engineering marvels- our feet and ankles. Because of the tremendous amount of force transmitted to the feet with walking, unique problems may develop. Attention to proper preventative care, i.e., comfortable shoes, sox, hygiene, support, along with proper prompt medical care can really put the brakes on foot pain.
Dr. Wei (pronounced “way”) is a board-certified rheumatologist and Clinical Director of the nationally respected Arthritis and Osteoporosis Center of Maryland. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and has served as a consultant to the Arthritis Branch of the National Institutes of Health. He is a Fellow of the American College of Rheumatology and the American College of Physicians. For more information on arthritis and related conditions, go to: Arthritis Treatment