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LIVING WELL: Foot pain could be a shoe problem

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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- My work focuses on helping people with joint, muscle and nerve pain that occurs all over the body, but I have been treating a lot of feet lately.

It seems like everyone has lower leg, ankle, foot or toe pain.

Besides the immediate pain in the foot or ankle, this will lead to knee problems, hip problems or spinal problems.

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? 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, eek, ouch, ooh, ouch, ouch!” There now, you’ve made your way to the bathroom, but 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, but only temporarily.

What about bunions, calluses, pain between the toes?

Feet can be real problems. Each foot has up to 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 or orthopedist.

In some cases injections or surgery may be necessary 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 many foot pain sufferers created their own problems.

Many may have been buying shoes for years based on how they look, rather than how they fit. Take a look at the shape of many shoes being marketed for women. Do that outlines even remotely resemble the shape of a human foot?

Are you still wearing the same size shoe you wore in high school?  Many people find that when properly fitted for shoes by a trained clerk the shoes they have been buying are not sized correctly.

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.

There will be millions of people complaining of foot pain every morning and every night for years to come.

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. Invest in proper footwear and early intervention for foot problems.

What about all those products advertised to help foot pain? Well, those are hit or miss. Some of the products are helpful. Some are marketing gimmicks.

For example, it can help 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.)

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?

Tagged under  Fashion, Health, Health Care, Living Well

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