We see many different reasons for foot pain, some are simple to fix and others that need to be managed. This article highlights the 4 most common reasons we see foot pain and what you can do about it.
- Plantar fascia pain – this is the most common muscular reason for foot pain. It is felt at the bottom of the foot, usually travelling from the end of the heel to the beginning of the toes, but can vary a bit in which part of the foot gets the most sore. The plantar fascia is a strong connective tissue that lines the bottom of the foot from under the heel to the beginning of the toes. It’s role is to support the normal arch of the foot and the position of the mid part of the foot. If the muscles that support the foot are not strong enough, especially the calf muscles, it puts more load onto the plantar fascia, putting it on constant stretch and causing pain. Reducing this pain is about taking the plantar fascia off constant stretch and improving the strength of the muscles surrounding the foot including the calf and deep muscles of the shin, the tibialis posterior muscle.
- Shin splints – this is similar to plantar fascia pain, except the muscles breaking down are above the ankle instead of under the foot. It can cause pain into the back of the calf or into the inside of the foot. The main aim of treatment is to make the muscles stronger so they can cope with load. This often takes time and a modification of activities in the short term until strength improves, but this pain does get better with treatment.
- Swelling of the ankles causing pressure on foot – swelling of the feet can cause more pressure on all the small joints of the foot and the plantar fascia. Generalised swelling of the feet and ankles can indicate issues of circulation or heart disease. If you find you have general swelling of the feet and ankles see your doctor for an opinion and appropriate management.
- Bunions – pain and swelling on the inside of the big toe, is usually due to poor biomechanics of the foot over a long period of time and wearing shoes that are tight over the toes. This can be modified to a degree with treatment. You can improve the biomechanics of the feet by improving the strength muscles supporting the foot, such as the calf muscles to reduce pressure on the big toe. The big toe can also be mobilised to improve the movement of the toe to reduce swelling. If there is enough damage to the joint, it may require surgery to correct the bunion, but this can be assessed by your doctor.
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