Tuesday, July 18, 2017

An Essential Guide to Handling Foot Pain

Many adults who experience foot pain might feel an acute pang with a certain movement or simply a growing ache over time. When it comes to evaluating your foot health and honing in the source of your foot pain, it’s important to first complete your own foot scan.

If one or more toes ache, look for:

Ingrown toenails - where the side of a toenail was cut at a curve and grew into the skin instead of away from it, you might see inflammation and a reddish discoloration, and it will feel tender. If it has become infected, there may even be a white or yellowish pus coming out of it. Other nail health issues that might cause painful sensations include cutting toenails too far back or fungal infection.

Splinters - more common than you may think, even a small splinter in your foot can go unseen but cause you pain. A keen scan of your foot from the heel to the forefoot and toes may reveal the culprit which you can typically exume yourself.

Corns/calluses - Rough patches of skin growth may be rubbing on your foot wear or causing you aches and pains when you apply pressure on them as you walk. A callus is dry, thick, and hard skin and might even appear grey or yellow. A corn is also thick but may have a tender ring in the center of it.

Enlarged joint/protrusion - a visibly swollen joint may indicate some inflammation that is associated with an injury, arthritis, or other condition. A bony protrusion on the other hand, especially adjacent to the big toe or pinky toe could indicate growth of a bunion or bone spur.

Other irritation - if friction from footwear has rubbed on your feet long enough, especially with tight fitting shoes or if you have hammer toe, you may see open sores, blisters, or cracked skin that is causing your pain.

If your forefoot, midfoot, or heel aches, look for:

PTTD: Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, or Adult Acquired Flat Foot, is the resulting drop in your foot arch when the posterior tibial tendon becomes inflamed, torn, and weakened. Look to see if your feet look flatter than usual; or if you look at your feet from behind using a mirror and can see your ankles slightly bent inwards and third, fourth, and fifth toes sticking out.

Plantar Fasciitis: Less visible to the naked eye is the inflammation and tearing of the plantar fascia tissue running down the foot from the heel to the toes. Plantar fasciitis symptoms are often characterized as a stabbing pain in the bottom of the foot, close to the heel.

Metatarsalgia: Also know as stone pain, when the ball of your foot in particular experiences mild to severe pain when walking and running, you might be dealing with the loss of cushioning around your metatarsals. This sensation could also feel like constantly having a pebble in your shoe.

Achilles tendonitis: The reinforcing band of fibrous tissue that connects the calf to the heel can become inflamed with overuse and result in severe pain at the back of the heel. Over time, the Achilles tendon can even tear or rupture which would also be noticeable in the back of the leg.

Various other injuries, ailments and foot conditions like plantars warts, athlete’s foot, and gout may also be to blame for your foot pain.

What do you do next?

Some mild foot pain may subside on its own, or simply require you to stretch and strengthen your toes more regularly. Toe and foot cramps can also be a sign that you simply aren’t getting enough vital minerals like potassium, sodium, and magnesium which you can simply correct by modifying your diet.

The next step for chronic or severe foot pain, however, is to see a doctor. A general practitioner may be able to provide a diagnosis and treatment plan for your foot pain, or they could refer you to a podiatrist. Podiatrists can more closely examine, analyze, and even x-ray or run other tests on your foot and ankle to narrow down the cause of your pain.

The bottom line is that foot pain should not be ignored, especially if it lasts more than a few weeks. Your feet are the foundation of your mobility and if even one goes out of commission temporarily that can negatively impact your ability to stay active, exercise, remain social, and complete basic day to day tasks.

This is a guest blog entry.

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