Foot Pain (cont.)
Jayson Goo, ATC, MA, CKTI
Jayson Goo, ATC, MA, CKTI, a National Athletic Board Certified Athletic Trainer, graduated from the University of Hawaii and earned his master's degree in human performance with a specialty in corrective therapy from San Jose State University. Jayson also is an active Certified Kinesio Taping Instructor.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- How is the foot designed?
- What causes foot pain?
- What other symptoms and signs may accompany foot pain?
- When should I seek medical treatment for foot pain?
- How is foot pain diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for foot pain?
- What follow-up care is needed after foot pain is treated?
- How can foot pain be prevented?
- Foot Pain At A Glance
- Feet Facts FAQs
- Find a local Orthopedic Surgeon in your town
What is the treatment for foot pain?
Treatments are optimally directed toward the specific cause of the pain.
When you first begin to notice discomfort or pain in the area, you can treat yourself with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Over-the-counter medications may also be used to reduce discomfort and pain.
Rest will allow the tissues to heal by preventing any further stress to the affected area. Crutches should be used if you have difficulty putting weight on the foot. Appropriate use of commercially available ankle and foot supports may provide rest, comfort, and support to the affected area.
Ice should be applied no longer than 20 minutes. The ice may be put in a plastic bag or wrapped in a towel. Commercial ice packs are not recommended because they are usually too cold. If extreme discomfort occurs, icing should discontinue immediately.
Compression and elevation will help prevent any swelling of the affected tissues.
There are two types of over-the-counter medications that may help with the pain and swelling of foot pain. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) will help reduce the pain, while a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin), or naproxen (Naprosyn) can help lessen the pain and as well as reduce the inflammatory response. Caution should be taken when using these drugs as dosage should not exceed the labeled directions.
A popular home remedy for relief of plantar fasciitis is rolling a golf ball on the ground with the bottom of the foot.
Blisters occur as a result of chafing. These "hot spots" should be attended to immediately with padding or friction reducers. If these spots progress to a blister and are unbroken, the doctor can drain them by puncturing from the side with a clean needle, and drained, the skin will act as a natural bandage and should not be trimmed away. If the skin over the blister is broken, the loose skin should be peeled back and the area should be treated as an open wound. Blisters should be covered and padded before returning to activity; in simple cases, a Band-Aid may solve the problem. If the blister is bigger, donut pads, gel pads, or commercially available blister pads may be more appropriate. To avoid blistering in the future, a generous application of petroleum jelly to the affected area can be helpful.
Once the severity and cause of foot pain is determined, a course of corrective and rehabilitative actions can be started.
- Qualified medical personnel may use electrical medical devices such as ultrasound, various forms of electrical stimulation, LED light therapy (laser), and/or manual therapies to reduce pain and increase circulation to the area to promote healing.
- Maintenance of fitness levels via modification of activity may be prescribed.
- Substitute activities that aggravate the pain and soreness. Running causes the body to have repetitive impact with the ground. The use of bicycling, elliptical trainers, step machines, swimming, or ski machines minimize impact and allow you to maintain and improve your fitness.
- Corrective prophylactic measures
- New shoes or the replacement of current shoe insoles
- Proper footwear fitting, including lacing and sock combinations to eliminate compression and friction issues
- Additional supports added to the shoes such as heel pads or cushions, arch supports, and various wedges to help maintain the foot in a proper position
- Athletic shoes lose the elastic properties of the soles through usage and age. A good rule of thumb is to replace your shoes every six months or more often if there is heavier usage. The use of replacement insoles can increase energy absorption and add support to the foot.
- Corrective and over-the-counter orthotics may also improve the biomechanics of the foot.
- Muscle strengthening and flexibility
- You may be given exercises to increase the strength and stability of the affected area and to correct muscles that may not be balanced.
- Exercises to increase flexibility will maintain or improve the length of a muscle. Flexibility helps to make a stronger muscle and less likely to be injured.
- Appropriate medication to control inflammation or disease-related symptoms
- In some cases, surgery may be necessary.
- Biomechanical evaluation
- Your body will create various changes in movement when you have an injury. A therapist can evaluate these changes and help you make the appropriate corrections. Prolonged, uncorrected biomechanical changes may lead to secondary mechanical changes that are painful and difficult to correct and may lead to a poor prognosis and possibly a slow or incomplete recovery from the symptoms.
- Techniques such as chi and barefoot running or using minimalist running shoes have been helpful and may help correct biomechanical problems in runners when properly implemented.
- Follow up with your doctor until you are better.
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