What is that Foot Pain? (And What To Do About It)

Oct 31, 2019

Saying that your foot hurts is one of those things that sounds much simpler on the surface than it is when you actually start addressing it.

You think you have the problem down pat. How complicated could it really be, right?

And then you start trying to deal with it.

Sometimes, what you try works—and that’s great! Other times, however, what was thought to be an easy solution ends up not having much of an effect, or no effect at all! It can be quite a frustrating and disheartening experience.

The truth of the matter, however, is not that you have some untreatable form of foot pain (thankfully); it’s that you are likely not addressing the underlying causes of your pain.

Think of treating foot pain like choosing a gift for that one picky friend you have. They will tell you they would be happy to receive, say, a doormat—but you know you can’t just pick up any doormat if you want them to be happy. It has to be the right size, the right shape, the right color—even the right texture!

To be truly effective in your goals, you need to understand all the needs you need to satisfy. And for foot pain, that can consist of a number of different possibilities.

What Can Be Causing Your Foot Pain?

When determining the cause (or causes) of pain in the foot, we need to consider a number of factors.

On the base level, the location of the pain, type of pain, and when it occurs will be essential information. Do you have sharp heel pain that comes about as soon as your feet hit the floor in the morning? That is likely plantar fasciitis. Do you have more of a “tingling” pain that occurs at the base of your toes when you place weight on them? That could be a neuroma.

So, identifying the potential condition is important, but the matter rarely ends with that. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as “plantar fasciitis medicine” that will clear up every case without question.

Two patients may have the same condition, but the reasons why they may have that condition can be different—and that requires treating each condition differently.

Same Condition, Different Approaches

Let’s go back to plantar fasciitis, a good and common example. This condition in itself consists of strain and micro-tears along the plantar fascia, a strong band of tissue that runs along the bottom of each arch. Symptoms tend to include the aforementioned sharp pain in the mornings, but also during many times you start to move after a long period of inactivity.

Now, let’s take a look at two typical plantar fasciitis patients:

  • Mary is an active runner who also likes to play basketball.
  • Todd is an office worker with a relatively sedentary lifestyle.

It doesn’t sound like Mary and Todd have a lot in common, and yet they both have plantar fasciitis? What’s the deal?

Mary’s plantar fasciitis could very well be a result of repetitive impacts to her feet. The stresses of running and jumping a lot can lead to damage to the plantar fascia over time, especially if the body isn’t given enough opportunity to rest.

Todd does not have a problem with resting. However, his problem might be more of a structural issue. He may have flat feet or another structural abnormality that shifts excess weight to areas that strain his plantar fascia. If he is overweight, that can certainly contribute to the problem.

But here’s where things can become even more convoluted: it’s quite possible that Mary could have a structural condition that causes strain, too! Perhaps that is the true source of her pain as opposed to physical overuse. Or perhaps both factors are contributing.

Getting to the details of a problem, through a thorough examination, is the best way of determining the best course of treatment. Unfortunately, many people try one or two things they feel will help, only to end up disappointed when they don’t.

What Can Be Part of a Foot Pain Treatment Plan?

Depending on the circumstances surrounding a problem, its causes, and a patient, a multitude of different elements may be considered for foot pain treatment. Some plans might involve just one of these methods, while others involve multiple. Some might involve something completely different.

Here are just a few of the potential treatment methods we may consider as part of an effective treatment plan:

  • Changes in footwear. Are your shoes placing too much stress on certain areas of your feet? Are they not built to accommodate the extra stresses you place on them during sports or workouts? A change of footwear can sometimes go a long way.
  • Custom orthotics. If the problem has a source in structural abnormalities, custom orthotics are often recommended as a means of properly redistributing weight across the feet.
  • Changes in activity. If overuse is a factor, changing your workout routine or accommodating more rest days can have a huge impact on comfort, allowing your body a chance to better recover and strengthen itself.
  • Stretches and exercises. Even if you are not currently active, specific stretches and exercises can strengthen the supportive tissues and muscles within the foot, providing better support in certain cases.
  • Medications. Whether delivered orally or sometimes in the form of an injection, medications can help relieve pain and inflammation.

In more severe cases, options such as surgery may be considered. This area contains many options as well, and is best left to discuss directly with us or the surgeon you consult for your condition.

However, in most cases, conservative treatments for feet pain often have a significant effect on one’s quality of life, and surgery is rarely needed.

Get the Help You Need to End Your Foot Pain

If you have already tried a few options for foot pain and have not seen results, do not give up. It’s time to get the direct, expert help you deserve!

Call Brook Valley Podiatry at (845) 352-7507 to schedule an appointment at our Spring Valley office. If you prefer to contact us electronically instead, please feel free to fill out our contact form and a member of our staff will reach out to you.

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