They say you don’t know how valuable something is to you until you lose it or it does not function properly anymore. If you are living with foot pain, then you know how true that saying is. It’s difficult accomplishing the basic necessities of life when dealing with foot pain. We put all of our weight on our feet when we get out of bed in the morning and move from one room to the next. So, when foot pain strikes it can cause quite a disruption to our day. Actually, it can seem like our whole life is put on hold when one or both of our feet are experiencing pain. What can be done to resolve this problem quickly? Why does foot pain even occur? Is foot pain all caused by the same condition? Let’s take a look at these and other questions you likely have on your mind.
Potential causes of foot pain
We’ve probably all experienced a bit of foot soreness from time to time, especially after being on our feet all day or walking on a hard cement surface for an extended period. However, the pain usually is just for a couple hours that evening and by the next day, you feel like your normal self again. But what causes chronic foot pain when you haven’t done anything recently that would warrant it? According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several reasons you may be experiencing ongoing foot pain. Some of which may be underlying medical reasons. Here is a list of some of the potential causes:
Achilles tendon rupture
Corns and calluses
Tarsal tunnel syndrome
Some of these foot problems are rooted in medical causes and require treatment by a medical professional. However, more common foot pain comes non-medical causes such as the one we will discuss in the next section.
Plantar fasciitis, one of the most common foot problems
With all these different reasons for foot pain, it is no surprise that according to the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, approximately 17 and 42 percent of adults experience foot pain. Most of the pain is reported at the arch of the foot, which is midway between the toes and the heel. Another common place for foot pain is in the heel area. Heel pain is almost always a result of plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the fascia, which is the tissues that stretch between the heel and the toes.
If you have this condition, you will feel a burning or stabbing pain in your heel area. The tissue that connects your heel and toes together becomes inflamed causing great discomfort. Usually, the pain is worse upon rising in the morning and directly after times of exercise. This can be difficult for those who like to maintain an active lifestyle. For many people, the stabbing pain may change to a dull ache after walking around a bit in the morning and flare up right after overusing it. This makes it difficult to keep up a regular exercise regimen.
Causes of plantar fasciitis
Almost all tissue and tendon problems are a result of some type of tearing. The same can be said for plantar fasciitis. The fascia endures tiny tears, which bring on the pain. Normally the fascia acts as a buffer between your feet and the hard surface of the floor. So, when the fascia gets tears in it, this means your foot will be doing much more impact with the ground. In addition, the fascia becomes inflamed as you continually tear and stretch it. How does the fascia become tore? Here are some of the main reasons:
Putting too much pressure on your feet. This can happen if a person is overweight but it can also happen if a person is hitting the pavement quite a bit with their feet. In other words, a runner would be prone to developing tears in the fascia, thus leading to plantar fasciitis.
Age. If you are between the ages of 40 and 60, then you are the prime age for developing this condition. It may be due to the normal wear and tear that occurs in the body as we age.
Your work/job. Depending on what you do for a living, this may be contributing to your ongoing foot pain. If your job requires that you stand or walk on hard surfaces for several hours a day, then this could damage the fascia.
Foot structure. People who have feet that are shaped or structured differently than is typical may be walking incorrectly without even knowing it. This will cause you to lean more to one side or another or not evenly distribute your weight. When this happens over time, it results in the damaging of the fascia.
What can be done about plantar fasciitis?
Most of the time, plantar fasciitis will clear up on its own but it may take several months. For some people, it could even take as long as six months to heal completely. The problem that often arises is people cannot change the cause of the condition. For example, let’s say you develop plantar fasciitis because of your job. So, you follow the directions to get relief, which includes taking some time off. However, after you are feeling better, you go back to work and in time, the condition may come back again because you are still working on the hard surface. So, not only do you need to treat the symptoms of your current condition, but look at ways to prevent the situation from reoccurring.
Relief from the pain of plantar fasciitis
For the moment, finding relief is of utmost importance. Some of the relief remedies for plantar fasciitis are the same for other conditions that involve a torn tendon. They are as follows:
Rest. This is easier said than done for most people. Most of us have to live life and that usually involves moving around, going to work, shopping, putting pressure on the foot, and so on. However, as much as you can rest your hurting foot, try to do so.
Ice or cold water soak. Some medical professionals advise that you do not put ice directly on your heel, but soaking it in a pan of cold water will be sufficient. This helps relieve the inflammation.
Pain reliever. If you are in a lot of pain, you can use over the counter pain relief medicine. Consult with a pharmacist or doctor for which type is best for you. People with stomach issues shouldn’t take NSAIDs and others may have to be careful about taking Acetaminophen.
Even though you do need your rest when dealing with plantar fasciitis, there are exercises that prove helpful in the healing process. The following stretches, exercises, and activities are used for plantar fasciitis:
Stretching the foot: Before you get up in the morning and put pressure on your foot, flex your foot forward and backward 10 times. This will get the blood circulating and loosen up the fascia.
Toe stretches: Sit down and stretch your big toe by pulling it forward toward your ankle. Hold it for 15-30 seconds. Repeat this a few times.
Towel stretch: While sitting on the floor, hold a full-size towel around the ball of your foot. Pull slightly forward toward your body until you feel a bit of pressure on the ball of your foot. Keep your knee straight while performing this exercise. Hold the position for 15-30 seconds. Repeat a few times.
Massage the foot
Preventing plantar fasciitis
Once you are healed from the plantar fasciitis, you want to take steps to prevent the condition from reoccurring. While you probably can not quit your job or make drastic changes, there are some things you can do that should help reduce your chances of it coming back. If you must stand on a hard surface all day consider adding some type of support to your shoes or feet. Take a break and rest your feet as often as you can in these type of jobs. If you are overweight, losing weight will help reduce some of the pressure placed on your feet. Of course, having a supportive pair of shoes is important. Keeping your feet protected with special wraps and tape will ensure that you won’t have the foot pain returning.