With the weather looking better and summer approaching all of us are gearing for fun. One of the majority of the conditions I have been seeing in the office recently is that of foot pain. Now there are several areas of the foot that are most common for pain.
1) Heel area. (Mainly medial and or central heel)
2) Plantar Fascial area
3) Achilles tendon ( usually the area that attaches to the posterior heel)
4) Top of foot or lace area
These are common areas of pain and each have several common reasons why they hurt. The purpose of this article is to review these areas and name a few conditions that cause the pain and then give a few simple home remedies to alleviate the pain.
1) Heel Pain.
Medial heel pain is primarily caused by a tight plantar fascia that pulls on the area of the heel that the tissue originates from. The tighter the tissue the more it pulls on the heel increasing pain. If this pull happens for several years you can begin to grow a heel spur. A heel spur is when bone begins to form with in the tendon attachment to the heel. It forms due to the stress being applied to the bone. These spurs can on occasion become so large that the person needs surgical intervention.
An easy way to help combat the tightness of the planter fascial area and relieve some of the tension being applied to the medial heel area is to stretch and rub the bottom of your foot. One great thing to do is to after any exercise stretch your calves as well roll out your plantar fascial area. Two ways to do this are, one use a tennis ball and step on it and roll back and forth or just stand on it for pressure therapy. A second thing to use is a small bottle of water that is frozen. Use the same techniques as the tennis ball and rub that area. These are just some simple ways to help decrease medial heel pain.
2) Plantar Fascial Pain
Plantar Fascial Pain(PFP) is very similar to that of medial heel pain. A majority of patients will have both heel pain and PFP at the same time. People who have PFP may feel more pain in the arch area of the foot. Mainly complain of arch pain when they first wake up and try to walk. This is caused by the sheets pulling or contracting the plantar fascia all night long. Pain is felt when you try to walk due to you trying to stretch the tight tissue out. In some cases you can tear this tissue causine severe pain and brusing.
In severe cases of plantar fasciatis the person will have to be in a walking boot for several weeks to allow proper healing. In less severe cases seeing a sports Chiropractor and getting proper treatment is a tremendous help. Also just as in the treatment of heel pain, massaging and rolling out the PF will help as well. Also getting a good pair of orthotics will help stabilize the foot and decrease PF tension.
3) Achilles (Achilles tendon) pain
This pain is usually felt on the posterior or back portion of your heel. It is mainly caused by an over tight Achilles tendon pulling on its attachment to the heel. In some cases you care tear the tendon off the heel requiring surgery. Many people report tightness with walking and pain upon rubbing that area. In severe cases most people have to wear flip flops in order not to put pressure on the heel area. This pain can be caused from over use injuries and or traumatic injuries.
Once again severe cases may require surgery and or placing that person in a walking cast for several weeks. For this our offices can help. With the use of our H-wave units the percussor and of course the cold laser, we have been able to decrease the inflammation with in the Achilles and help reduce pain. Also home care consisting of stretching and rubbing the calf will help as well. Some times the best care is some time off your sport to allow proper healing.
4) Top of foot pain( lace area)
The pain that most people get here is pretty severe. The pain is usually sharp and intense causing the person to limp due to the pain. This pain is usually sudden and not caused from trauma. There is usually no swelling or redness noted just sharp pain on the top of the foot.
This one is usually caused from the person wearing too tight of shoes. Tying the laces extremely tight over the top of the foot causes the bones to approximate creating pain. The top of the foot has some small surface nerves and if these get pinched they are painful. So loosen the laces and see if that helps. If it does not then see your Chiropractor because those bones in question are jammed and need to be released to decrease pressure. A majority of the time this is a quick fix and usually does not require time away from your activities.
These are only a few foot problems that I have been seeing on a constant basis in the clinic and I hope that these simple tools will help you keep your feet healthy.
Dr. Ed Green is a Sports Chiropractor who runs Ed Green Chiropractic in Moorpark. He has vast experience working with Athletes for the past 10 years and has traveled the US caring for High level athletes. He also competes in the Heavy Athletic games and understands the athlete from their point of view.