Often foot pain is associated with high heels or ill fitting shoes but with 26 bones, 33 joints and hundreds of muscles, nerves and ligaments; the foot can be a source of pain for a variety of reasons, and the pain can affect the top of foot, the ball of the foot, heel and ankle bone.
Foot pain is more often a symptom of some other condition; and in some cases can be part of a complication that could have severe impact on the patient.
Causes of Foot Pain
There is a strong correlation according to the Mayo Clinic between footwear choices and foot pain. In some cases, that connection is instant, in other cases the belief is that choices made early in life will contribute to foot pain later in life.
However foot pain can be indicative of other conditions or medical issues including sports injuries, broken toes or foot bones, bone spurs, bursitis, bunions, gout, osteoarthritis, plantar warts, or metatarsalgia or forefoot pain. Foot pain symptoms include increased fatigue in the feet while walking, and sharp pains the ankles and chins during long stretches of physical activity.
Foot Pain and the Diabetic
Diabetics are cautioned to look for foot pain as an early warning sign to more serious complications. Poor circulation from diabetes can cause difficulties in the feet. Nerve damage or peripheral neuropathy can cause numbness in the feet, this may mean that the diabetic is less sensitive to foot pain and may not treat the condition early enough. Losing a toe, foot or lower leg from infection and circulation issues is 10 times more likely in diabetics.
Foot Pain and Sports
For the athlete, proper shoe choice and impact are significant to preventing and managing foot pain and injuries. The body puts enormous pressure on the foot, especially when walking or running. Gravity shifts the weight of the body to the foot, this transfer of force is especially critical when pushing off in running or walking.
In the forefoot, the energy transfer can be most impactful. According to WebMD peak vertical forces reach 275% of body weight during running. A runner may absorb 110 tons per foot while running 1 mile. Pressure studies have shown that runners spend most of the time weighted over the forefoot while running.
Natural Treatment for Foot Pain
The type of pain, the ability to put weight on the foot and the chronic nature of the injury are all important considerations in the type of treatment. Anytime the foot pain is such that walking or movement is impaired or weight can’t be sustained on the foot, or when the person is diabetic or has other circulation issues; a physician should be consulted.
The treatment recommendations will depend upon the underlying conditions and symptoms of the foot pain. In some cases, different shoes, proper support for arches or rotation of shoe types will alleviate the pain. In other cases, physical therapy, recreational therapy or occupational therapy may be recommended to change foot balance and stance during sporting activities.
Medications, surgery and other medical interventions may be recommended if the foot pain is a symptom of a more serious complication.
Natural healing methods of acupressure, foot soaking and non-impacting exercise may be recommended as well for foot arch pain. For the diabetic, proper control of blood sugar and good hygiene issues are critical.