By Dr. Virginia Nsitem:
Do you experience pain in the feet with your first steps in the morning? Do have difficulty walking after sitting for a long period of time due to foot pain? Do you feel numbness at the ball of your foot or sharp pain at the heel of the foot? This article will discuss common foot problems and the “steps” you should take to relieve your foot pain.
Foot bones, muscles, and vessels:
The back section of the foot is made up of the heel and the ankle. The middle section of the foot is made up of bones that form the arch of the foot. The front section of the foot is made up of the toes and their bones.
The muscles of the foot extend from the leg to the foot and there are also muscles that originate in-between the bones of the foot. The foot muscles help move the foot up, down, in and out, and also move the toes.
Tendons attach the muscles to the bones. The Achilles tendon is an important structure that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone.
The many blood vessels and nerves in the feet have important functions for the feet, legs, and entire body.
The foot functions to support and balance the weight of the body, and allows us to stand, walk, run, and jump.
Common foot problems:
- Inflammation or irritation of the tissues that form the arch of the foot
- Pain at the bottom of the foot or arch of the foot
- Pain with the first few steps of the morning or after sitting for a long period of time
- Pain described as “walking on sharp pieces of broken glass”
- Inflammation or irritation of the joints and tissues at the front section of the foot (forefoot)
- Pain at the front section of the foot (ball of the foot)
- Pain with running or walking
- May be associated with Morton’s neuroma, a condition that causes numbness in the toes
- Overuse or irritation of the Achilles tendon
- Pain and tenderness of the Achilles tendon (at the back of the heel)
- Swelling of the tendon
- Stiffness with ankle movements
- Pain after running, climbing steps, and jumping
- Abnormal or excessive turning or twisting of the ligaments of the ankle
- Grade 1 is a minor sprain with mild ligament damage; Grade 2 is a moderate sprain with partial tearing of the ligaments; Grade 3 is a severe sprain with complete tearing of the ligaments
- Pain at the ankle
- Swelling and bruising at the ankle
- Difficulty standing and walking
- Wear and tear of the joint cartilage in the feet
- Pain and swelling of the foot joints
- Deformity of the foot joints
- Difficulty walking and standing
The “STEPS” to relieve your foot pain
Before treatment and rehabilitation can begin, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis. In addition to a physical examination and a thorough understanding of your symptoms, you may be referred for additional tests such as x-rays studies. Chiropractors specialize in diagnosing, treating, and rehabilitating injuries of the spine, muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, and nerves. A correct diagnosis is important to rule out more serious conditions that may be causing your pain and symptoms. The focus of the treatment is to reduce pain, improve flexibility and strength, and increase function (standing, walking, and running).
Your treatment by a Chiropractor may include:
- An ergonomic assessment of how you stand, walk, and run
- Chiropractic treatments for the feet (and other related joints) to improve flexibility, balance, and strength of the muscles and ligaments, and restore proper movement to the joints. Laser therapy may help reduce the inflammation and pain associated with foot injuries.
- Specific Rehab Program. The type of injury you have will determine the specific rehabilitation program that you should receive. The addition of physiotherapy, massage therapy, and acupuncture to your rehab program may aid in pain relief and speed up the healing process.
- Monitoring your weight is also important as a few extra pounds can contribute to foot pain.
- Proper footwear and proper foot mechanics can help reduce the symptoms of foot pain. Custom foot orthotics or over-the-counter foot supports can provide extra cushioning in your shoes which may reduce stress on the joints and improve foot mechanics.
Dr. Virginia Nsitem is a chiropractor specializing in laser therapy for spine, muscle, joint, and nerve injuries, and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Chiropractic Sports Sciences