Foot pain: causes, treatment and prevention
Updated: February 2020
In addition to their essential role in helping you to balance, supporting your bodyweight, and absorbing the impact from the ground, your feet are complex structures, each comprising 26 bones and many joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons, all of which are served by a network of nerves and blood vessels. This complexity explains why there are so many potential causes of foot pain, which may also come from somewhere other than the foot itself.
Causes and symptoms of foot pain
You may feel foot pain on the top side of your foot or underneath it (e.g. in the sole of the foot or the heel), at the front (in the toes and toenails), or at the back of your foot (Achilles tendon). Other symptoms associated with the pain can range from swelling and stiffness in your foot to redness, among other things.
Foot pain can have a number of causes, including problems with your muscles, joints, bones, ligaments, tendons or nerves, for example. It can be caused by injury (e.g. tendinitis or a fracture), a deformity or malformation of the foot (such as hallux valgus or ‘bunions’, flat feet, or club foot), a condition affecting your joints (like arthritis), an infection (such as a verruca), or a problem with your veins (such as phlebitis, an inflamed vein).
Treating foot pain
How foot pain is treated will depend on its cause, which is why it’s important that you talk to your doctor, who will try to determine the cause of the pain. For example, if you have been injured, your doctor will prescribe rest, applying an ice pack, and a course of anti-inflammatory drugs. If the pain is caused by your joints, you will be offered painkillers or even injections to relieve the pain. For pain associated with malformations, you may be prescribed special insoles, or even surgery in certain cases.
There are also some methods which offer drug-free relief from muscle and joint pain. This is a key feature of the OMRON HeatTens range of pain relievers, which relieve this type of pain by using a combination of soothing heat and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS).
Preventing foot pain
In order to prevent foot pain, there are certain risk factors that you could reduce. It is essential to wear good shoes – neither too high nor too flat (a 2–3 cm heel is ideal). They should support your foot without compressing it, and should be suitable for your needs (e.g. the right size, with shock-absorbing soles), especially when it comes to sports shoes. You should try to maintain a healthy weight, since this has a direct influence on the state of our feet, which support our bodyweight.
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