Tired and aching feet can hold you back from activities that you would otherwise enjoy. Age, activities, and health are common factors leading to painful feet. The weather also contributes.
While some people do not seem to be affected in any way by a dip in temperature, there are people who cannot take the cold without experiencing pain.
What Causes Foot Pain
- Metatarsalgia is a condition that results in pain and swelling along the metatarsal bones. Runners, gymnasts, and soccer players are likely to suffer from this condition.
- Age and condition-related bone loss is another reason why people suffer from foot pain.
- Sometimes the mechanics of feet movement cannot be executed as they should because of an absent arch, excessive pronation, or weak muscles in the feet. This places undue load on the metatarsals and causes pain.
- Obesity results in extra load on the joints of the legs, including the delicate bones of the feet.
- Ill-fitting shoes are often an underlying cause of painful feet. It is important to wear the right-sized shoes to ensure support and comfort. Our feet may change in shape and size over the years. It could be from bunions between the toes or a loss of the arch from gaining weight; therefore, it is important to buy the right-sized shoes, be they dress shoes or sneakers.
Footwear-Related Feet Problems that Cause Pain
Poor choice in footwear can result in many painful foot problems that can also leave your feet tired without much exertion. Treating only the problems will only give relief from the symptoms; in order to truly treat the issue, the root cause – poor footwear – must be addressed.
- Blisters – Caused by loose shoes that results in the feet moving inside the shoes. A loose heel cup is often the cause.
- Bunions – Caused by tight shoes with insufficient space leading to bunched toes rubbing against the shoe and each other.
- Corns and calluses – Shallow-toed dress shoes with high heels can lead to these issues. Corns and calluses are more commonly found with tight slip-ons.
- Inflamed nerves – Tight shoes that squeeze the feet can lead to this painful condition.
Foot Conditions and Treatments for Pain Relief
Pain Relief from Plantar Fasciitis
It is an inflammation at the bottom of the foot, and it runs from the heel to toe. The condition is triggered by excessive load on the fascia that helps the arch of the foot to bear the load of the body. Females, people with tight Achilles tendons, obese individuals, and those who spend a lot of time standing are at risk.
Splints worn at night to gently stretch the calf muscles bring relief from pain arising from plantar fasciitis. Exercise to stretch the Achilles tendon and strengthen the ankle joint is recommended.
Orthotic shoes with thick insoles offer cushioning and deliver relief from the pain. Painkillers, for not more than a month and under a doctor’s prescription, provide relief. Treatment can deliver symptomatic relief quickly, and may take up to ten months to effectively treat the condition.
Pain Relief from Heel Spurs
These are calcium deposits that result in the formation of a bony projection beneath the heel bone. Heel spurs can be a painful condition, often associated with plantar fasciitis. The condition is caused by running on hard surfaces or by wearing ill-fitting shoes with insufficient cushioning and support for the arches.
Rest is not a particularly effective remedy to mitigate the pain arising from heel spurs. Stretching exercises recommended by a podiatrist, the right kind of shoes, night splints, and NSAIDs are some non-surgical treatments that can bring relief from pain.
Inflammation can also be brought under control using corticosteroid injections. Nine out of ten cases of heel spurs respond to non-surgical treatments; however, for cases that do not respond to such treatments over a period of twelve months, surgery may be recommended to remove the bone spur.
Pain Relief from Foot Bruises
A bruise can be superficial or deep. It is caused by blunt force trauma to the affected area, for example, the toe stubbing on furniture or a ball hitting the foot. It results in discolored skin due to blood collecting at the site of the injury.
Sometimes, strenuous exertion can result in the blood vessels tearing and the appearance of bruises. Senior citizens with thin skin and people taking blood-thinning medications are likelier to bruise easily.
Bruises can be painful because of the forceful impact that causes them. These can resolve on their own over time. For pain relief from bruises to the foot, it is a good idea to keep the foot elevated for the first 24 hours, to ease the inflammation.
A cold compress to the affected part will also help to bring down the swelling. Over-the-counter painkillers bring relief from the pain.
Pain Relief from Morton’s Neuroma
This is a painful condition that affects the balls of the feet. It happens when the tissue around the nerves at the base of the third and fourth toes begins to pinch those nerves. Women wearing high-heeled or tight shoes may suffer from this condition.
Doctors prefer to take a conservative approach in treating this condition. Therapy is the first line of approach to deliver pain relief. Orthotic foot supports can be worn to ease the pressure on the nerves.
Women should avoid high-heeled and tight footwear. Injections to ease the pain may be prescribed. Surgical intervention is the final option, and may include decompression surgery to remove some of the thickened tissue to ease the pressure on the nerves, or in some cases, removal of the nerve itself.
Pain Relief from Flat Feet
The adult foot has an arch, the absence of an arch results in a flat foot. Flat feet can be a congenital defect, arise from defects in the tendons that form the arch, occur due to arthritis, or may be traced to broken bones. Tired feet and pain in the feet are common symptoms of this condition.
Procedures for pain relief from flat feet include home remedies, non-surgical procedures, and surgery. Rest, cold compresses, exercise, NSAIDs, insoles, shoe modifications, and steroidal pain relievers are commonly used procedures for pain relief. It is advisable to avoid activities that trigger foot pain.
Controlling blood sugar levels and the body weight is important to mitigate risks from these factors. If these fail, then doctors may perform surgeries such as arthrodesis, excision, osteotomy, synovectomy, or tendon transfer.
Pain Relief from Gout
This is a painful condition that develops from excessive uric acid crystals in blood that can lodge in the joints of the body, including ankle and toe joints in the foot. An attack of gout can be extremely painful and may last for more than a week. Pain is most severe for the first day or two of a gout attack. In general, men are likelier to suffer from gout. Obesity and alcoholism are contributing factors.
A gout flareup can be managed by taking NSAIDs. The application of an ice pack, 2-3 times a day will help control the inflammation. Staying hydrated will help dissolve the uric acid crystals that can be excreted through urine. Alcohol must be avoided. Sneakers and thick-soled sandals are preferable moccasins and narrow-toed shoes that stress the toes.
Pain Relief from Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis of the foot is a degenerative condition that occurs due to the loss of cartilage in the joints. It is the most common form of arthritis, and is an age-related condition. Injuries to the foot can also result in this condition. An ankle sprain, stubbing the big toe, or a fracture of the mid-foot can lead to osteoarthritis over time.
Pain relief from osteoarthritis can be achieved through non-surgical procedures such as NSAIDs, custom orthotics for support and pain relief, a cast boot may be prescribed to bring down the inflammation, and steroid injections to directly deliver the painkiller to the inflamed area of the foot. Surgery may have to be performed to reduce pain and restore activity.
Pain Relief from Corns and Calluses
Corns and calluses are layers of hardened skin formed to protect the surface beneath from pain and pressure. Corns can develop on the toes. Calluses develop on the soles of the feet and are not usually painful. Poorly-fitting shoes and not wearing socks are two main reasons for corns and calluses developing over time. Bunions and foot deformities increase the risk of these skin conditions.
The simplest way to alleviate the pain is to stop activities that are resulting in pressure and friction, which produces corns. Wearing shoes that fit, corn caps, and a pumice stone to remove the extra skin are remedies for these conditions.
Shoe inserts may help reduce the pressure on the affected portion of the foot, particularly if there is a foot deformity that is causing the condition. Keeping the skin moisturized also helps soften it, making it easier to thin the thickened skin with over-the-counter pads or a scalpel.