top of page

Understanding Foot Pain: From Plantar Fasciitis to Bunions and Beyond

Foot pain is a prevalent issue that affects millions of people worldwide. Various conditions can lead to foot pain, with some being more common than others. In this article, we will delve into some of the most common foot pain causes, including plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, bunions, and many others. For each condition, we'll explore the symptoms, the causes, and how physical therapy can help in treatment.


physical therapist doing manual therapy for the achilles

1. Plantar Fasciitis

Symptoms: Plantar fasciitis is characterized by a sharp, stabbing pain at the bottom of the foot, especially near the heel. This pain is typically most pronounced in the morning when taking the first steps after waking up but can also flare up after prolonged standing, walking, or when rising from sitting.


Causes: The condition arises due to inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs from the heel to the toes. This inflammation can be a result of excessive strain or stress on the fascia. Factors that contribute to this strain include flat feet, high arches, obesity, or wearing shoes with inadequate support.


Treatment with Physical Therapy: Physical therapy plays a pivotal role in treating plantar fasciitis. Treatment often includes stretching exercises to relieve tension from the fascia, strengthening exercises for foot and leg muscles, and manual therapy techniques. Orthotics or shoe inserts may also be recommended to provide proper foot support.


One of the main issues with treatment of this condition without physical therapy is that rest is not the option. Short term, the foot feels better with rest but because of the lack of loading of the fascia it becomes more sensitive when you become active again. By performing strength exercises we can help people load the plantar fascia and reduce the sensitivity of the area.


2. Achilles Tendonitis


treatment for foot pain by a physical therapist

Symptoms: Achilles tendonitis manifests as pain along the back of the ankle or just above the heel on the thick tendon. The pain might start mildly and worsen over time. The area may become tender, stiff, or swollen, especially in the morning or after activity.


Causes: The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. Overuse or intense strain on this tendon can lead to inflammation, causing tendonitis. This overuse can result from repetitive or increased activity, tight calf muscles, bone spurs, or wearing high heels for prolonged periods.


We often see achilles tendonitis occur when there is a sudden spike in activity.


Treatment with Physical Therapy: Physical therapists design individualized treatment plans for Achilles tendonitis. This often encompasses calf stretches, strengthening exercises, deep tissue massage, and ultrasound therapy. Additionally, therapists might advise on footwear changes or the use of heel lifts to reduce strain on the tendon.


We use blood flow restriction therapy, and eccentric loading in order to properly load the achilles tendon making it stronger and more durable. We are also finding that there are some specific muscle defects that can be found such as soleus strength, which often isn't addressed.


3. Bunions

Symptoms: Bunions are bony bumps that form at the base of the big toe, causing the toe to deviate towards the other toes. They present as a swollen, red, or sore bump on the inside of the foot. Over time, they can cause persistent pain and may lead to limited toe movement.


Causes: Bunions develop due to the misalignment of the bones of the front foot, pushing the big toe towards the smaller ones. Several factors can contribute, including genetic predisposition, wearing tight or narrow shoes, and certain foot structures.


Treatment with Physical Therapy: Physical therapy for bunions focuses on alleviating pain and preventing progression. Therapists employ toe stretches, strengthening exercises for foot and lower leg muscles, and manual mobilization techniques. They may also recommend appropriate footwear or padding to alleviate pressure on the bunion.


Our physical therapists will also help you regain balance and proprioception, which is often decreased with this type of injury.


4. Metatarsalgia

Symptoms: Metatarsalgia is characterized by a burning, aching, or sharp pain in the ball of the foot. The discomfort may worsen with standing, walking, or running and may improve with rest.


Causes: This condition arises due to inflammation in the metatarsal bones. High-impact activities, ill-fitting shoes, foot deformities, and excess weight can put extra pressure on the metatarsals, leading to this inflammation.


Treatment with Physical Therapy: Physical therapists adopt various modalities to treat metatarsalgia. These include metatarsal pads, ice, arch supports, foot exercises.


We also work with patients on gait training and improving the way you walk in order to reduce the pain and limitation associated with this injury.


5. Morton's Neuroma

Symptoms: Morton's Neuroma feels like you're standing on a pebble in your shoe or on a fold in your sock. There's a sharp, burning pain in the ball of the foot which might radiate into the toes.


Causes: It involves a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to the toes. Factors like wearing high heels, high-impact sports, or certain foot shapes can increase the risk of Morton's Neuroma.


Treatment with Physical Therapy: Treatment in physical therapy includes a combination of foot exercises to strengthen and stretch the foot and lower leg muscles, massaging the foot, and using orthotic devices.

In conclusion, foot pain, though common, should not be overlooked. It's crucial to identify the symptoms, understand the underlying causes, and seek the right treatment. Physical therapy offers a range of treatments tailored to individual needs, ensuring the best possible outcome for every patient. Don't let foot pain limit your mobility and quality of life. Seek help, and take steps towards a pain-free life.


In conclusion, foot pain, though common, should not be overlooked. It's crucial to identify the symptoms, understand the underlying causes, and seek the right treatment. Physical therapy offers a range of treatments tailored to individual needs, ensuring the best possible outcome for every patient. Don't let foot pain limit your mobility and quality of life. Seek help, and take steps towards a pain-free life.

125 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page