Foot pain can occur for dozens of reasons, including causes related to trauma, foot shape, gait mechanics, diseases and even choice of footwear. Some of the most common causes of foot pain include:
Getting a complete diagnosis is the key to ensuring the most effective and most appropriate treatment is provided for optimal results.
A neuroma is an abnormal thickening of nerve tissue that causes local and regional pain and numbness, especially when pressure is applied. As nerve tissue becomes thickened, the nerve becomes irritated and inflamed. One of the most common types of neuromas to affect the feet is Morton's neuroma, which affects the nerve that provides sensation to the third and fourth toes. The most common causes of Morton's neuroma are related to footwear. Shoes that are very cramped to tight in the toe area can cause nerves to become pinched and compressed, resulting in irritation and inflammation associated with painful symptoms. People who wear high heels on a regular basis are also more prone to developing Morton's neuroma as a result of the increased pressure on the ball of the foot, the fleshy pad of tissue located just behind the base of the toes. Other times, an inherited foot shape or gait-related issues can contribute to the development of a neuroma.
Diagnosis begins with a review of symptoms as well as a complete health history, followed by a physical examination of the foot. Patients may be asked to walk, stand on tiptoe, or perform other exercises and motions to determine what causes painful symptoms. The foot and ankle may be passively flexed and stretched and toes may be manipulated to evaluate symptoms. In some cases, diagnostic imaging like x-rays may be ordered, nerve testing may be recommended or other testing may be performed.
That depends on the underlying cause of the pain. Many types of foot pain can be treated with custom orthotics designed to redistribute weight, decrease pressure and friction, and support the arch, ankle joint or other structures. Physical therapy and stretching exercises can also help in many conditions, and these techniques may also be combined with bracing or splinting. Oral pain medicines or steroid injections may be prescribed to provide relief from inflammation and pain. A few causes of foot pain may require surgery to correct. Treatment plans typically begin with more conservative options whenever possible, turning to surgical options only when conservative treatments fail to provide relief, or when these conservative options are not possible or practical.
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