Your feet are really just shock absorbers most of the time. They can cushion as much as a million pounds of total pressure in just one hour of rigorous exercise. They can also support one and a half time your body weight when you’re walking or running. Given all that, it’s easy to understand why your feet are always at high risk of getting injured.
You are likely to wonder what’s going on if you wake up and are startled to find foot pain happening. You’ll wonder why your feet hurt, and maybe even how a doctor or physical therapist can help you in getting treatment. Foot pain is a very common reason why patients see podiatrists and orthopedic physicians. The human foot is complicated in structure, considering it has five ligaments, 26 bones, and 33 joints. When any of these parts get overstressed or injured, pain could result, as well as limited functionality and mobility. Keep reading to learn five common causes behind foot pain.
Plantar fasciitis is one very common cause of foot pain for many people. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue which runs across your foot at the bottom. Plantar fasciitis is irritation of that band since it connects your toes and heel bone. People who have plantar fasciitis typically experience pain along the bottoms of their feet, usually near the inner portion of the heel. Discomfort associated with this is more frequent when waking up in the morning. It also happens due to strenuous exercises, such as running, but it can also happen while just walking. Treatments include reducing inflammation, balance exercises, strength conditioning, and stretching.
Metatarsalgia is another common cause of foot pain. The term is used for describing a painful condition that happens in the ball of the foot just before the toes. The bones in this part of the foot are known as metatarsals. When running or jumping activities are prolonged over time, this part of the foot as to put up with increased stress loads. In time, the various metatarsal bones get swollen so pain can result.
A third common cause of foot pain is posterior tibial tendonitis. This particular tendon goes down through the lower inner leg, attaching close to the medial arch near the bottom of the foot. It helps support the natural arch of the foot. If irritated, it can cause anything from pain to limited walking ability and even flatfoot deformities. Treatment might include a variety of options ranging from orthotics and anti-inflammatory modalities to exercises for strength, flexibility, and balance.
Turf toe is a fourth common cause of foot pain, and it’s a sprain that happens great toe’s base. It can happen if the big toe is bent back beyond its typical range of motion. This happens a lot when people kick soccer balls, particularly if they miss the ball and wind up chunking the ground instead. This will tear the ligaments supporting the toe. Turf toe pain is then felt during walking or running. Therapy for this centers on managing the inflammation with a gentle restoration of the normal mobility.
The last common cause of foot pain in this list is tarsal tunnel syndrome. It happens when the primary nerve going down to the foot gets compressed by tissue and/or bone. You might be more familiar with carpal tunnel syndrome of the wrist; tarsal tunnel syndrome is the same thing, just for the foot. Symptoms of this are usually felt inside the region of the foot and include shooting, burning, and tingling.
Treatment for these and many other common causes behind foot pain might include physical therapy. Gentle foot stretches frequently help with relief of the pain or discomfort felt from many of these disorders. Sometimes, especially with plantar fasciitis, you might wind up wearing a brace at night that keeps your foot stretched out. Ice bottle massages might also help with inflammation and pain.
As always, check with your doctor or physical therapist if you have such issues. Foot pain is challenging to manage on your own, but it needs dealing with so you aren’t prevented from normal walking. When left unchecked, it might impact your regular ability to work or involve yourself in recreational activities.