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bunions, Foot Pain, foot ache, physiotherapy

4 Types of foot pain one should not ignore

Muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments build up the feet that aid in all kinds of physical activity. All of these together are responsible for making one walk, run, or even stand. Individuals must take care that all the elements are working correctly for maximum movement.

Although minor issues in the foot can be checked over by general medical doctors, in case of specific ache or problem, the foot needs to be diagnosed by a podiatrist

Different types of foot pain

Although there are many types associated with foot pain, there are four aches that need special attention.

Metatarsalgia                                                                  

Metatarsalgia affects the ball of the foot. Although it is a common cause of foot pain, the pain is usually ignored and not treated medically. The condition is common to see in people who are overweight or spend a lot of time running or standing.

Even shoes with improper soles could cause pain in the ball of the foot. Many other aches are similar to metatarsalgia; hence it is vital to get the condition checked out by a podiatrist to get a proper diagnosis.

The standard treatment options for metatarsalgia include:

  • Physiotherapy exercises focused on loosening calf muscles
  • Using ice packs
  • Over the counter pain killers
  • Wearing comfortable footwear, especially with metatarsal pads

Surgery is a last resort to treat the issue, depending on what is causing the foot issue. 

Ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails are a physical condition where the edges of your nails grow into the skin surrounding the nail. Although it can affect any toe, it is mostly seen in the big toe of the foot. The toe becomes inflamed where the nail pieces the skin, followed by swelling and pus discharge. 

Ingrown toenails are primarily seen in middle-aged and older people, and also in those people who have sweaty feet. No research indicates that ingrown toenails are genetic; it is usually caused by wearing tight footwear and following incorrect foot hygiene. 

You can treat ingrown toenails at home with simple remedies which include:

  • Soaking feet in warm water
  • Manually removing the nail
  • Oral and topical medicines (for severe cases)

if these are ineffective, the wound requires minor surgery to remove the accumulated pus or part of the toenail.

Bunions

A bunion is a bump that forms on the joint that connects the big toe to the foot. A bunion mainly affects the big toe and causes it to lean in towards the second toe. In this way, bunions can cause pain and discomfort in the second and third toe.

Other toes may develop physical deformities like a hammertoe, claw toe, or mallet toe. Any pain in the toe or swelling around the joints should be communicated to a podiatrist as soon as possible.

You can get bunions due to the following conditions:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Birth deformities
  • Hereditary conditions
  • Foot injuries
  • Wearing improper footwear

Necessary measures to treat bunion pain and stop further progression of the condition include:

  • Wearing the correct footwear
  • Practising physiotherapy

In case these measures are insufficient, the next step is surgery, where the big toe is manually aligned back to its place.

Heel pain

Heel pain is one of the most common foot problems. Heel pain usually manifests in the back of the ankle and is often caused by plantar fasciitis (heel spur movement). Conditions like arthritis, tendonitis, stress fractures, nerve irritation and in rare cases, cysts can also cause heel pain. The pain is generally mild, which goes away on its own without any treatment. However, if the pain escalates and becomes chronic, a podiatrist is needed to provide accurate diagnosis and treatment. 

Heel pain is typically seen in:

  • Obese people
  • Runners
  • Women
  • Those who wear tight footwear

The treatment methods for heel pain entail:

  • Wearing comfortable footwear
  • Simple physiotherapy exercises
  • Extracorporeal shock treatment for severe cases
  • Surgery in case the condition does not improve

Also, Read: Foot and ankle pain: Everything you need to know

How is foot ache diagnosed?

Usually, a simple discussion, along with physical examination, is enough in case of minor foot problems. In case of severity or lack of detailed information, the doctor would recommend some of the following options: 

  • X-rays – to get a proper look into the foot and rule out broken bones as a cause of pain.
  • Blood Tests – to rule out infections in wounds.
  • Foot Exercise Tests – to know the exact pain point in the foot, usually done to assess the arch of the foot.
  • Nerve Conduction Tests – to rule out the pain caused by nerves in the foot.

Should you use home remedies for foot pain?

Foot ache caused by heel pain, bunions, metatarsalgia, and ingrown toenails can first be treated with home remedies. Soaking feet in warm water is one of the most common ways to help relieve pain.

Podiatrists can properly diagnose severe foot issues. Depending on the severity and complexity of the problem, a podiatrist would prescribe drugs or recommend surgery. 

Any significant foot problems must be taken care of by a specialist, i.e., a podiatrist rather than a general doctor. A podiatrist would have a more practical and effective approach in comparison to a general medical practitioner.

Can foot pain be prevented?

While treating foot pain is easy and manageable, you can take some measures to prevent foot pain altogether.

  • Wearing proper footwear is the best way to prevent multiple issues causing pain in the foot.
  • Take regular breaks and proving relief to aching feet.
  • Take care that the ligaments of the foot are not stressed by walking or running on hard surfaces.
  • Maintain proper weight to avoid excess stress on the feet.
  • Treat inflammatory diseases prudently to help prevent foot pain.
  • Exercise regularly to maintain flexibility in the foot ligaments.

Conclusion

Although foot pain is quite common, it is easily preventable if you learn to take proper care. If you want to avoid these conditions, the first indicator that you should look out for is foot pain. In such cases, the worst thing to do is ignore the discomfort.

Immediate medical attention is necessary if basic remedies are not enough to reduce the pain. You can book an appointment with Dr Anuj Chawla, a Gurgaon-based podiatrist.

Author: Dr Anuj Chawla
Dr. Anuj Chawla is a distinguished orthopaedic surgeon with over 15 years of experience across several reputed institutions across the globe. He specializes in foot and ankle disorders, sports injuries, and geriatric trauma.
 
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