Foot Pain – What Should I Do?

By Moses Jacob, DC
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Soccer Player with Foot Pain Injury

Foot Pain Overview

The foot is comprised of the ankle, forefoot (metatarsals) and the joints of the five digit or toes.

There are 26 bones and 30 joints in the foot. All joints are connected by supportive ligaments. Various muscle at the back, top and bottom of the foot function as the joint movers.

Traumatic foot Injuries may occur from specific event e. g. tripping or falling, repetitive activities including walking, running or competitive sports including, soccer, tennis, football, or basketball. Injury may result in pain and dysfunction of any of the soft tissue structures i.e. ligaments, muscles and their tendons. Poor fitting shoes or prolonged wearing of high heal shoes (see picture below,) coupled with or poor biomechanics may also cause foot pain disorders.

How Can I Prevent Foot Pain?
  • Proper warm up exercise before activity
  • Proper fitting shoes for walking or sports
  • Cooling down after engaging in sports is also advisable

Pain if often the result of the body’s inflammatory processes due to direct or repetitive trauma. Many injuries are self-limiting. If pain persist treatment options include.

Common Injuries that Cause Foot Pain

  • Sprain/strain: a sprain refers to injury stretching or tears of ligaments. A strain is injury to muscles or tendon. Most common ankle sprain/strains occur from a twist during a misstep or improper landing during a jump or planting hard playing sports.
  • Plantar fasciitis: is an inflammatory reaction of plantar fascia is the connective tissue that runs from your heel to the base of your toes. This may occur when walking, jogging, or even standing.
  • Achilles Tendonitis: often a result of overdoing it running or sports.

Treatment Considerations for Foot Pain

Acute treatments: Remember RICE: R-est, I-ce, C-ompression (soft bracing e.g. ace bandage wrap), and E-levation . The RICE method should be the first approach in the treatment of recent foot injuries. Once the sharp pain improves applications of heat, e.g. warm baths provides relief.

Conservative care as done by a licensed chiropractor includes, patient education, joint mobilization or manipulation, massage, use of braces or supports, as well as therapeutic and rehabilitative exercises. For fasciitis fitted shoe insoles or orthotics may be prescribed. Physical medicine modalities include ultrasound ; TENS – transcutaneous electro-muscle stimulator; or laser light device- to help reduce inflammation and promote healing. Sports medicine chiropractic providers also employ kinesiology taping methods which have been shown to be effective.

Chronic care: Conditions which last longer than 90 days or become recurrent. Over time or due to repeated injuries, some patients develop ankle joint osteoarthritis (OA). OA may affect different joints of the foot and toes. OA may be, slight to advanced and adversely affect activities of daily living e.g. walking or stair climbing. Conservative Treatment options may include strengthening exercises, or a combination of land and water based exercises.