Chronic foot pain is a very common problem for millions of people in the United States. However, there are many different causes of recurring foot pain, which means there are just as many ways to treat it. Finding what works best for you isn’t always easy, which can make living with foot pain difficult. In this article, we’ll go over the five most common ways to treat chronic foot pain, and how you can start living a pain-free lifestyle today.
What Causes Chronic Foot Pain?
Before diving into how to fight chronic foot pain, it’s important to understand what can cause foot pain in the first place. There are a number of medical conditions that can cause chronic foot pain, many of which can be difficult to diagnose or understand. If you’re able to, talk with your doctor about a referral to a podiatrist (a doctor who specializes in foot care). They can help you better understand what is causing your foot pain and can help point you in the right direction for treatment.
Common causes of chronic foot pain include:
- Buerger’s Disease
- Plantar fasciitis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ingrown toenails
- Fractures, sprains, or breaks
Any of the above-mentioned conditions can cause chronic foot pain, and may all require different treatments. Once you’ve determined what condition is causing your pain, you can start to look into what treatments are best for you.
Five Ways to Fight Chronic Foot Pain
There are many different ways you can fight chronic foot pain. Depending on what’s causing your pain, how severe the pain is, and what works best for you, treatment may look different. That said, several blanket treatments can help alleviate your chronic foot pain, most of which don’t require any major changes to your everyday lifestyle. Here are the five best ways to kick chronic foot pain today.
By and large, orthotics are one of the most effective ways to relieve foot pain caused by any number of chronic conditions. Orthotics are a form of braces, supports, or other types of padding that are made to help chronic foot, ankle, and even some lower back conditions.
When talking about orthotics, it’s easy to confuse them with inserts, which are also used to help with things like foot pain, arch support, and other similar ailments. Orthotics, on the other hand, are different. They are prescription medical devices that you wear inside your shoes to correct biomechanical foot issues such as problems with how you walk, stand, or run. They can also help with chronic foot problems, such as plantar fasciitis, bursitis, and arthritis. In some instances, using orthotics can even help you avoid surgery to fix flat feet (flatfoot reconstruction).
Depending on your condition, shoe inserts may very well do the trick. To determine what’s best for you, ask your doctor to refer you to a podiatrist to get their recommendations.
Several chronic foot conditions can be treated using medications. While over-the-counter medications may help with the occasional swelling, aching, or pain caused by minor injuries or conditions, chronic foot pain oftentimes requires a little something extra.
As previously mentioned, seeing a podiatrist can have its advantages. One advantage of seeing a specialist is that they can prescribe medications that are not only stronger but are also targeted at treating your specific condition.
Common medications used to treat chronic foot pain include:
- Analgesics: These types of medications are typically used to treat foot pain and pain related to surgery. Also known as painkillers, analgesics come in two major groups: anti-inflammatory analgesics and opioid analgesics. Some analgesics can be bought over the counter, others require a prescription.
- Corticosteroids: Another medication commonly used to help relieve chronic foot pain is corticosteroids. Commonly referred to as steroids, corticosteroids are a type of anti-inflammatory drug typically used to treat rheumatologic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Corticosteroids can be administered via a shot or in pill form depending on the location of the pain.
- NSAIDs: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are medicines that are widely used to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and bring down a high temperature. These types of medications are most commonly used over the counter and include drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and diclofenac.
- Gout Medications: Gout is a very common cause of foot pain, and is often treated with medications. Since gout medications reduce levels of uric acid in the blood, which helps with joint pain and inflammation, they are also quite effective at treating rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
- Biologic Response Modifiers (BRMs): Also known as immunotherapy, this type of medication is a treatment that aids the body’s immune system, typically to fight cancer. However, if you’re experiencing foot pain due to bursitis or rheumatoid arthritis, BRMs may help block the inflammatory response by suppressing the immune system.
- Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs): Prescribed to reduce arthritic pain, DMARDs are useful for those with psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Another route you can try to help kick your chronic foot pain is making lifestyle changes. Changes don’t need to be dramatic, but that doesn’t mean the results can’t be. Oftentimes, the way we live our lives has everything to do with the aches and pains we feel throughout the day. Things like what we eat, the shoes we wear, our jobs, and many other factors can all play a role in your chronic foot pain.
Meeting with a podiatrist can help you assess what, if any, lifestyle changes you can make to help alleviate your foot pain. During your appointment, your podiatrist will ask you questions about your medical history and lifestyle. This allows them to pinpoint whether or not these factors are contributing to your pain, and whether or not making changes could help.
Some easy lifestyle changes your podiatrist may recommend include:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Improve your flexibility
- Wear shoes that fit
- Stop wearing high heels
- Take frequent sitting breaks if your job requires you to stand for long periods
- Stay hydrated
- Soak your feet in hot water when pain strikes
- Get regular foot massages
Physical therapy can be a great option for overcoming chronic foot pain. It can also help you strengthen the muscles and joints in the feet and ankles, which can help prevent future injuries. During a physical therapy appointment, you may be given exercises to increase the strength and stability of the affected area and to correct muscles that are not balanced. Exercises to increase flexibility will maintain or improve the length of a muscle. Flexibility helps to make a stronger muscle that’s less likely to be injured.
Conditions like plantar fasciitis, arthritis, strains and sprains, and other inflammatory conditions can all greatly benefit from physical therapy. Your podiatrist can help you determine if physical therapy is right for you. The exercises that your physical therapist gives you can be done both in-office and at home. Performing these exercises regularly is important to stretch and rebuild muscles and address weaknesses in the body that may be causing pain and functionality issues.
If medications, lifestyle changes, physical therapy, or orthotics fail to help with your chronic foot pain, your podiatrist may recommend surgery. The type of surgery they will recommend will vary depending on your condition and the severity of your pain. Conditions like bunions and hammertoes can typically be treated and even reversed if caught early enough. In some cases, surgery may be the only way to achieve long-lasting relief from persistent, chronic foot pain.
Common procedures for foot pain include:
- Achilles Tendon Repair: The Achilles tendon is the thick tendon that connects the back of the heel to the calf muscles. If torn or damaged, surgery is often necessary to properly reconnect the torn ends back together.
- Fusion Surgery: This type of surgery is often used to treat joints with excessive damage. This is done using plates and screws to enable the natural fusion process, which will prevent the movement that is causing pain and other symptoms.
- Metatarsal Surgery: Metatarsal surgery is typically recommended for people suffering from bunions, rheumatoid arthritis, or other conditions that cause deformity of the foot. The procedure involves cutting the metatarsal bone, repositioning it, and fastening it in place using metal pins, plates, or screws.
- Reconstructive Surgery: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or severe injuries to the feet or ankles may require surgery to alleviate pain and correct abnormalities.
- Toe Deformity Correction Surgery: Surgical treatment can be performed to straighten out and reposition the toes so that you can walk properly and without pain.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to treating chronic foot pain, there are plenty of ways you can start to treat yours. Talk to your doctor or podiatrist to find out what treatment options are best for you, and find out how you can start living pain-free today.
How Do You Fight Your Chronic Foot Pain?
Let us know if we missed anything in the comments section below!
What topics related to chronic pain should we cover next?
Email us your ideas at email@example.com, we may just feature your topic in our next article!
Struggling with chronic foot pain? Looking for a support group?