It is not hard to understand why our feet are highly susceptible to pain or injury. Consider this: As shock absorbers, our feet cushion up to one million pounds of pressure during one hour of a strenuous workout. Our feet also support 1.5 times our bodyweight during more common walking and running activities.
Foot pain is a common reason why people visit their podiatrist or orthopedic physician. Human feet have over 26 bones, 33 joints and 5 ligaments. There are many causes for foot pain in the structures in the foot:
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot pain. It results from irritation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia. This band runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. People with plantar fasciitis experience sharp pain across the bottom of the foot. Plantar fasciitis pain is most severe in the morning after wakening. Patients often report a sensation of feeling like they are walking on glass shreds.
Metatarsalgia is a painful foot condition in the area just before the toes, or the ball-of-the-foot. Named metatarsalgia because the bones in this region of the foot are named the metatarsals. Metatarsalgia happens when a person is involved with prolonged jumping or running activities. As a result a high amount of stress load is placed on this of the foot over a period of time. The metatarsal bones become swollen and pain is felt in that section of the foot.
Turf toe is a sprain at the base of the great toe. This can happen during a fall and when the big toe bends back beyond its normal range of motion. The extreme bending of the toe causes a tear in the ligaments that support it. Pain with turf toe is felt when a patient walks and runs.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome happens when the main nerve that goes to the foot is compressed by bone or tissue. Much like the condition in the wrist called “carpal tunnel syndrome.” The symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome are typically felt on the inside of the foot. The pain is described as burning, tingling and shooting.
Physical therapy is often one of the main ways to treat the symptoms of chronic or acute foot pain. Your physical therapist will recommend gentle stretching of the foot to help to alleviate the discomfort felt due to the above disorders. Five easy and common exercises to stretch the structures of the foot are:
In addition to physical therapy, patients with plantar fasciitis can benefit by wearing a brace at night to keep the foot in a stretched position. This helps reduce the pain of having to stretch the foot upon waking. Some patients also require a cortisone shot to help reduce inflammation and pain.
Physical therapy will help you properly recover from a foot pain or injury. If you or a loved one is experiencing foot pain during regular activities or while engaged in sports, contact us today to schedule an appointment with the best physical therapists in NYC.