Dealing with foot pain, even for a short amount of time, is something most people would like to avoid. Unfortunately, it is one of the more common chronic pain problems. From a dull, persistent ache in the heel of your foot to stabbing pains around the base of your big toes, foot pain can limit your ability to engage in leisure activities, enjoy your loved ones, and accomplish tasks at work or home. Pain that persists for weeks, months, or years without any signs of stopping is considered chronic foot pain and may require ongoing attention and care.
What are some common causes of chronic foot pain?
Fractures, strains, and sprains may take a considerable amount of time to heal, and even after they do, you may find that some residual pain is persistent. Arthritis is another medical issue that leads to chronic pain in the ankles and toes, along with gout, bunions, and hammertoes. Buerger’s Disease, a condition, that causes blockages in the blood vessels, can affect both the feet and the hands, and it often affects males of Middle Eastern or Asian descent who are heavy tobacco users. Bursitis, a swelling of the join sacs that keep bones separate from tissues, and sciatica, which affects spinal nerves, can also both lead to pain in the feet, legs, and joints of the lower extremity. Foot pain is often plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis.
What are some ways to cope with chronic foot pain?
Make some changes to your lifestyle. There may be some daily lifestyle factors that are influencing your chronic pain. Extra weight on the body means increased stress on the leg muscles, as well as on your feet and toe joints. Losing extra pounds and maintaining a healthy weight based on your body frame, type, and age may significantly impact your foot pain.
If you are active, be sure to stretch before engaging in physical activity to ensure that muscles and tendons are ready for strenuous activity so that you can avoid injury. Rearrange those workouts or substitute activities that appear to aggravate your pain and soreness. For example, running may exacerbate your pain, while an elliptical workout may not affect it at all. Opt for a range of activities you can rotate, including swimming, biking, and ski machines that will not be high impact exercise for your feet, but still maintain your fitness. Or look at the many exercise options for weight loss that can be done, even if you are challenged with chronic foot pain.
You may want to try soaking in hot water when the pain or getting regular massages as a preventative measure. Both have been shown effective in pain reduction and management. Taking over-the-counter supplements and multivitamins can support a healthy, active lifestyle. And don’t forget to avoid wearing heels or other uncomfortable shoe styles that adversely affect the feet.
Try medication. Most chronic pain sufferers will utilize over-the-counter pain-relieving drugs of both the oral and topical variety but will find that they may have limitations for ongoing discomfort and inflammation. Seeing your primary care physician or podiatrist is important because they can prescribe stronger medications for those suffering from medical conditions that lead to chronic pain, like arthritis or gout.
The Arthritis Foundation lists many options for chronic pain sufferers, including biologic response modifiers that block the inflammation process or disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) that reduce arthritic pain. Many NSAIDs, also known as painkillers, may be purchased over the counter, while some may require a doctor’s prescription while analgesics can be used as an alternative to oral NSAIDs. Corticosteroids, often administered as shots, are another treatment option for swollen or sore joints.
Go to Physical Therapy. If you’re dealing with chronic foot pain, you may not feel like exercising or even moving. But physical therapy or exercises that are designed to ease foot pain can often be beneficial in ultimately minimizing the pain. Exercises that increase the strength and stability are important, as are those that will improve your flexibility. Flexibility helps to create a stronger muscle that is less likely to be injured in the future.
Purchase Orthotics. Custom orthotics or orthopedic modifications have been shown to reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling, especially for those that suffer from plantar fasciitis, arthritis, diabetes, or metatarsalgia, which is a painful foot disorder that affects the bones and joints at the ball of the foot. While main chronic suffers may try over-the-counter shoe inserts, there are places that custom design these for specific patients.
Have you suffered from chronic foot pain? Do you have any suggestions for alleviating ongoing pain? Please feel free to comment below.