Foot injuries are predominantly caused by overuse, strenuous activity, and ill-fitting footwear. We tend to forget about the important role that our feet play until suddenly we’re in pain and struggling to get from the bedroom to the kitchen. An extensive number of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones are involved in the functioning of the feet, and when any one of these becomes irritated or inflamed, the result is pain and poor mobility. The following is a list of common foot injuries, their causes, and how you can treat them.
- Plantar fasciitis – inflammation of the connecting tissue between the heel bone and the toes, resulting in pain of the heel or arch. For relief, rest the feet for several days, and stretch the heel and foot before and after activity. Over-the-counter medication can provide pain relief while you are healing, and shoes with a cushioned sole and structured arch will prevent reoccurrence.
- Metatarsalgia – pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot, usually caused by doing high-impact sports like running and jumping without proper foot support. Rest, ice, and pain medication will help the condition to heal, and shoe inserts should lift some of the pressure off the balls of the feet during future activity.
- Achilles tendinitis – irritation of the Achilles tendon; the band that attaches the calf muscle to the heel, causing pain in the lower calf and the back of the heel. It often develops when one is suddenly very active, instead of gradually increasing one’s activity. Rest, regular calf and foot stretches, and will help the immediate pain. For long-term prevention of foot injuries relating to the tendons, increase activity levels gradually to build up muscle strength.
- Neuropathy – numbness, tingling, and burning pain in the feet caused by injured nerves. Often related to poorly managed diabetes, but also to sports-related injuries. Neuropathy requires a visit to the doctor to get to the bottom of what is causing the pain. If it is a sports-related injury, the course of treatment will likely vary from that of diabetes, which may include medication, lifestyle changes, or even surgery.
- Morton’s neuroma – pain between the toes that stretches to the ball of the foot, and requiring an appointment with your podiatrist. The pain may feel a bit like pins and needles or numbness, and is caused by a thickening of the nerve tissue near the toes. It occurs more frequently in women owing to the way in which shoes are manufactured to be more ‘feminine’, with a pointed toe-box that is damaging to the feet.
The mainstay of treatment for all of the foot injuries above is rest. If rest, cold packs, and anti-inflammatory medication don’t do the trick, then it’s time to make a visit to your general doctor or podiatrist, who will likely advise a foot scan. You may benefit from alternative treatments for foot pain, such as the use of magnetic insoles in your shoes. Where the usual treatments for foot injuries don’t work, some people have claimed relief from magnetic insoles, which are said to increase blood flow in the feet, relieve neuropathy, and prevent further foot injuries.