Common causes of chronic foot pain and treatment options
Your feet bear your weight when you stand, walk, run, and jump – taking quite a bit of abuse on a daily basis. Because of this, foot pain – pain or discomfort in any area of the foot from the toes to the Achilles tendon at the back of your heel – is common.
The foot is one of the most complex areas of the human body. It is comprised of 26 bones, 33 joints, a network of nerves, and support from muscles, ligaments and tendons. Foot pain can be caused by injury or inflammation involving any of these structures in the foot. There are many contributing factors which increase the risk of developing pain in the foot, including obesity, anatomy, sports participation, certain health conditions, and wearing shoes that offer little or no support.
Many acute conditions, such as sprains or bone fractures can be successfully treated. If pain is the result of a chronic or degenerative condition, your doctor may refer you to a pain management specialist who can recommend conservative and interventional treatments for complete pain relief. Some of these conditions include:
Achilles Tendon Disorders
The Achilles tendon – the thick piece of tissue that connects the heel and calf muscle – plays a large part in allowing the foot to push off the ground correctly when walking. When this tendon becomes inflamed, swollen and painful, it is referred to as Achilles tendonitis. A different condition, Achilles tendonosis, results from small tears along the tendon, and occasionally, in the surrounding tissues. Another ailment is a tear along the Achilles tendon. Often, minor or partial tears cause minimal pain, but a full tear can make it nearly impossible to walk because of the pain and instability.
If the pain due to the Achilles tendon is mild to moderate, your pain specialist may recommend conservative treatments including resting the affected foot, stretching exercises, and over the counter medications to control pain, inflammation and swelling. If the damage to the Achilles tendon is severe, your doctor may recommend bracing or casting the foot, and, in some cases, surgery to repair the tendon.
Fairly common among adults, heel spurs are caused by a growth of abnormal bone along the heel bone. These spurs can cause significant foot pain and can make it extremely difficult to walk. Depending on the severity of the pain, you may find that rest, icing the painful area and taking ibuprofen or aspirin provides relief from pain, inflammation and swelling. In some cases, localized steroid injections provided by a board-certified pain specialist can be beneficial.
As we age, the cartilage in our bodies begins to naturally break down and deteriorate, including the cartilage in the foot. Because of this loss of cartilage, the bones rub together in the joints, causing inflammation, swelling, and pain in the feet. Common treatments for foot pain resulting from osteoarthritis include anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, cortisone injections, braces, shoe inserts, and weight control.
Plantar fasciitis is a common condition involving the plantar fascia, a thick ligament that runs along the bottom of the foot and connects the toes to the heel. Runners often suffer from plantar fasciitis because of the stress they put on their feet. However, obesity, wearing shoes that don’t offer proper support, and either flat feet or high arches can also put a patient at risk for plantar fasciitis. Like most other chronic foot pain, the treatment is often rest, icing the area, taking ibuprofen or aspirin for pain and swelling. Localized corticosteroid injections may offer longer lasting alleviation of pain, inflammation and swelling. In severe plantar fasciitis cases, surgery may be indicated.
At PRC Alliance Pain Relief Centers, our pain management specialists are experts in treating chronic foot pain due to any injury or condition. If you’re experiencing persistent foot pain, contact us today.
Jennifer Kundrat, ARNP is an advanced registered nurse practitioner and pain management specialist at PRC Alliance Pain Relief Centers. To learn more, visit Jennifer Kundrat’s profile.