If you are like most people, you will have foot pain at some point in your life.
Some of the most common foot problems are illustrated in this column. See if any of the scenarios presented below describe you.
You awaken in the morning, stretch in bed, roll over, turn back the covers and place your feet on the floor. So far, so good. Then, you stand up and take a step.“Ouch!” As you make your way to the bathroom you experience stabbing pain with every step.
After you have moved around a little, taken several more excruciating steps, the pain begins to subside and you can walk with relative ease, until you again sit for a while and stand up to repeat the process all over. The pain is in the bottom of your foot, usually near the heel, and feels like the tissues in your foot are tearing apart.
Or maybe you feel fine in the morning, but by the time you have been on your feet all day your feet are killing you. Dull, achy, aggravating pain that won’t go away until you lie down. You’ve tried potions and lotions, and get some relief … temporarily.
What about bunions, calluses, pain between the toes?
Feet can be real problems. Each foot has 26 bones! With dozens of muscles, ligaments, and tendons attaching to those bones there is a lot that can be dysfunctional. I use manipulation to improve joint function and acupuncture and acupressure to relieve pain. Sometimes this can seem like a miracle for people in pain. Sometimes they need to see a podiatrist (foot specialist) or orthopedist (bone and joint surgeon) and get injections or surgery to resolve severe foot problems. Occasionally drastic measures are tried and still the problems persist. Why are feet so problematic?
I hate to bear bad news, but it’s possible that you did it to yourself. Like everyone else you know, you have likely been buying shoes for years based on how they look, rather than how they fit your feet.
Are you still wearing the same size shoe you wore in high school? If so, you may be wearing the wrong size shoe.
If everyone started wearing properly fitted shoes, my friends in podiatry would probably run out of business. I don’t think they are worried, though. Most people will continue to buy shoes for how they look rather than how they fit. There will be millions of people complaining of foot pain every morning and every night for years to come.
But you don’t have to be one of them. If you are experiencing any foot or ankle problems, don’t wait until it gets worse. In our office our first step in solving foot pain is to evaluate overall foot function. Besides joint function, fit is the next thing to correct. Consider switching to different shoes that fit and support your feet. Invest in proper footwear and early intervention for foot problems.
It sometimes helps to insert an over-the-counter arch support or insole to relieve painful arches. It may make more sense to have an insole custom-made for your foot by a professional. In some cases, the cost is less than generic solutions.
You may find some relief from rolling a golf ball under your foot to massage it. (You might even want to try storing the golf ball in the fridge to apply cold therapy.)
Another thing to try is to gently stretch your foot daily and performing figure eight exercises. Although you may not notice an improvement immediately, these steps may help if continued for a few weeks.
Soak in warm water with Epsom salts can often bring temporary relief. So can self massage. Even better is a professional massage by a Licensed Massage Therapist.
Gentle chiropractic foot manipulation or acupuncture often resolves even long standing foot problems. Physical therapy can be helpful as well.
Foot pain should not be ignored. It will probably get worse and treatment may be available to prevent further progression. It is also likely that the pain can be relieved by manipulation, acupuncture, medications, injections, supports, custom insoles, proper shoes or some other treatment. Wouldn’t your rather get rid of the pain than “learn to live with it”?