Causes of Foot Pain and Ways to Find Relief

Causes of Foot Pain and Ways to Find Relief | Dr. Ali Ghahary

There are many reasons why foot pain can occur. Most commonly, it is due to prolonged periods of standing or going for long walks – particularly if walking isn’t something you’re used to doing. Most of the time this type of foot pain is only an acute flare-up. However, if you have chronic foot pain then the culprit can be anything from the shoes you’re wearing, bunions (a bony deformity found at the base of the toe), to certain health conditions such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

The cause of your foot pain also depends on where the pain itself is located. If the pain is in the heel area, you may have a condition known as plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia (the ligament that connects the heel bone to the toes) becomes weak, strained or inflamed. If you have plantar fasciitis, you will most notice pain when you stand or walk. If the pain is in the arch of your foot, this can also be caused by plantar fasciitis. Being flat footed can also cause pain in the arches of the feet. If the pain is more noticeable in the ball of your foot, the likely cause of this specific pain is, as mentioned, due to increased or excessive physical activity, such as walking or running, standing for long periods of time, or improper footwear. Lastly, if the pain is in the toes, this can be caused from inflammatory conditions such as gout or arthritis, or even ingrown toenails. Foot pain can also be dependent on the time of day. Plantar fasciitis, for example, is more common in the daytime, while things like gout are more likely to be noticeable during the evening, as that is when health experts say monosodium urate crystals form in your soft tissue, joints and bones.

When it comes to actually treating foot pain, the first thing a podiatrist or a family physician like Dr. Ali Ghahary will want to know is what type of footwear the patient is most commonly wearing. For example, if you’re wearing heels or flat shoes every day, you’re more likely to develop sore, aching feet. In order to prevent this, you need to make sure you’re wearing proper shoes – or, at the very least, have a separate pair of comfortable shoes that you can easily slip into at the end of a long day at work. Wearing heels for prolonged periods can result in damage to the Achilles tendon and cause you to lose range of motion in the feet. If you absolutely insist on wearing heels or have to adhere to an office dress code, then you should make sure the heels you’re wearing are no higher than 2 and a quarter inch. As for other types of footwear, such as running shoes, it all depends on your feet. If you’re flat footed, you’ll want to find a shoe that has enough stability as well as motion control. You may also need to wear orthotics (also known as inserts) to give your foot some extra cushioning and support. For those with higher arched feet, you’ll want to wear a shoe that has a soft midsole and is flexible. If your feet are considered normal, try to avoid shoes with lots of motion and stability, and instead choose a shoe that is neutral.

Another great way to relieve foot pain is by soaking your feet in warm water combined with Epsom salt. Epsom salt, also known as magnesium sulfate, is a mineral that is absorbed into the skin and is commonly used to relieve not just sore feet, but other types of body aches and pains relating to the bones, muscles and joints.

If your foot pain still persists after trying the aforementioned steps, or if the cause of your foot pain is due to a sports-related injury, such as a strain or sprain, then you may need to see a physiotherapist as well as partake in physical therapy. Physiotherapy is a hands-on approach (done by a physiotherapist) that is focused on rehabilitation after injury as well as injury prevention, as well as the improvement and restoration of range of motion, function, and physical strength through manipulation and mobilization; while physical therapy is more of a patient-take-charge approach where you are taught different rehabilitative exercise techniques that can help you relieve pain and prevent future foot injuries. Physical therapy may also include massage of the affected areas, as well as joint mobilization.