Are you letting nagging foot pain keep you off your feet? There could be more at risk than sole discomfort. It could be impacting your energy levels and causing unnecessary fatigue.
Your feet are your foundation. Keeping them in good shape is necessary for balance, posture, and mobility no matter your age or activity level. When your feet are constantly aching, it could mean trouble for your entire musculoskeletal system. Even worse, foot pain can eventually affect your organs and nervous system, too.
If you’re tired of living with tired feet, you have options. Read on to learn what you can do to get back on your feet with newfound energy.
Understanding Foot Pain
To understand foot pain – and how to solve it – we first have to understand feet themselves.
Feet are complex. If you’ve ever given yourself or a loved one a foot massage, you’ve probably noticed how much structure is packed into a relatively small space. Still, the feet can rotate, bend, curve, and flatten with ease. Their intricate design of 26 bones and 33 muscles, woven together by joints, ligaments, fascia, tendons, and vasculature not only allows us to move freely but to stay stable, too.
This complexity is also what makes our feet vulnerable. Tendons can become inflamed, muscles can tear, and bones can break. What kind of foot pain you are experiencing often comes down to which tissues are damaged or stressed.
10 Different Types of Foot Pain
1) Plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis occurs on the bottom of the foot when the plantar fascia (a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes) becomes inflamed. This is a common type of foot pain and is most often felt after waking up or after activities like walking or running.
2) Posterior tibial tendonitis
This condition occurs when the tendon that connects the lower inner leg to the bottom of the foot is inflamed. Because this tendon supports the foot’s natural arch, it usually causes pain when walking or immobility.
3) Tarsal tunnel syndrome
This is the equivalent of carpal tunnel syndrome but on the foot. The foot’s main nerve travels through the tarsal tunnel to innervate the foot and toes. When the tissues surrounding this area are inflamed or damaged, they put pressure on the nerve and lead to burning, tingling, or shooting pains on the inner side of the foot.
A bunion is a bony protrusion at the base of the big toe. They are typically caused by a misalignment of the joint that points the big toe inward toward the other toes. Bunions can be sore or painful, especially when wearing tight shoes or walking.
Like bunions, hammertoe is a condition caused by a misaligned joint. However, this usually affects the middle toes, causing them to bend or curl like a claw. This causes pain in the ball of the foot and the toe itself.
Metatarsalgia is pain that occurs in the ball of the foot. Overwork, stress, or injury can cause the metatarsals (the long foot bones) to become swollen and painful. It can also be brought on by arthritis.
7) Turf toe
Turf toe occurs when the big toe bends backward beyond its normal range of motion, tearing its ligaments in the action. It is common in sports like soccer or football, but can also happen while walking or running.
8 ) Morton’s neuroma
A sharp, stabbing feeling on the bottom of your foot, kind of like a pebble in your shoe, could be caused by Morton’s neuroma. This is a thickening of nerve tissue that occurs between the toes (usually the third and fourth) after injury or overuse.
9) Diabetic neuropathy foot pain
Foot pain can be a symptom of diabetic neuropathy if high blood sugar levels damage the nerves of the geet. While some people experience numbness, others may have pain and difficulty moving.
Gout is caused by inflammation in the joints of the foot, due to a buildup of uric acid crystals. It tends to affect the big toe and may cause redness, swelling, and sharp pain. Unlike arthritis, which tends to worsen over time, gout is triggered by certain foods, activities, or lifestyle habits.
Different Types of Foot Pain
In addition to understanding what type of foot pain you have, it’s also important to understand the different types of foot pain symptoms you may be experiencing:
- Foot pain that’s worse at night
There are many different reasons why your foot might hurt only at night, or hurt worse at night. It could be because you’ve been on your feet all day. Nighttime muscle cramps and restless leg syndrome could make foot pain worse. If your foot pain is due to a pinched nerve, or tarsal tunnel syndrome, your sleeping posture could be to blame.
- Foot pain while standing up
Achy feet that are worse while standing up is likely due to a structural issue (like a pinched nerve, bone spur, fracture, or Morton’s neuroma), or an inflammatory issue like plantar fasciitis. Standing on your feet increases pressure on the entire foot, which can exacerbate the vulnerable areas.
- Foot pain when walking
Nearly all foot pain conditions caused by inflammation, injury, or overuse will feel worse when walking. Walking not only puts pressure on the foot, but causes repetitive stretching of the muscles, ligaments, and fascia.
How Foot Pain Impacts Your Health
Having foot pain doesn’t just make walking uncomfortable – it impacts many different aspects of your health and quality of life. When left untreated, foot pain can lead to other pain conditions, muscle weakness, and even low energy.
- Foot pain leads to other types of pain.
The feet are the bottom-most link in an entire kinetic chain of movement. When there is an issue in the feet, it can affect everything above it – the ankles, the knees, the hips, the back, and all the way up your spine to your neck and head. In fact, many of the reasons people come to see an AlignLife chiropractor (low back pain, sciatica, neck pain) have their roots in poor foot health or function.
- Foot pain causes poor posture and muscle imbalance.
A structural weakness in the feet can impact your body’s entire chain of biodynamics. Things like poor foot positioning or pronation (rolling your feet inwards while walking or running) can lead to stress and compensation in the legs and hips. This then affects your posture habits in the lower and upper back.
- Foot pain affects your organ function.
Your feet are intricately connected to your entire body – including your internal organs. When your foot health is compromised, it can affect how nerves and blood travel through the body. Increased foot pain can also lead to an increase in inflammation and cortisol which can negatively affect our whole body’s health.
- Foot pain can drain your energy.
Anytime you are struggling with pain or added stress, it drains your energy. Your body has to use more of your energy reserves to heal damaged tissue. Not to mention, all those signals running from the foot to the brain can mentally and emotionally wear you out over time. Fixing your foot issues will actually improve your overall energy and well-being.
What Causes Foot Pain? 9 Causes You Shouldn’t Ignore
Not all foot pain is the same. And not all pain comes from the same cause. Here are some of the most common, yet often overlooked causes of foot pain.
Wearing the wrong shoe is one of the most common causes of foot pain. Poor-fitting shoes can lead to superficial issues like ingrown toenails to deep issues within the foot structure.
A foot injury requires proper care and a complete course of treatment. But, this can be a challenge. Most people want (or need) to get back to their daily lives as soon as possible. And that means putting pressure and stress on the feet. Unfortunately, if a foot injury doesn’t have the time to heal properly, pain can linger for months or even years.
Excessive exercise, intense training, or standing on your feet all day can wear out the structures of your feet. Exercise is important, but be sure to give your tired feet some rest, too.
Just as too much exercise can lead to pain, not enough can also cause problems. A sedentary lifestyle can leave your foot muscles weak and your tendons and ligaments stiff. Developing foot strength and flexibility helps make your feet stronger under pressure and more resilient to a range of movements.
Arthritis causes pain and inflammation of the joints. With the foot’s many joints and daily wear and tear, it can be a target for inflammation and reduced mobility.
As if hot flashes and night sweats weren’t enough, foot pain can also be a menopause symptom. Estrogen and progesterone help regulate the development of our connective tissues – including the ligaments, muscles, and tendons in your feet. As these hormones drop in menopause, these soft tissues can become stiff and inflamed.
Osteopenia and osteoporosis
Maintaining bone health as we age is important not only to reduce our risk of falls and fractures but to stay steady on our feet. Osteopenia and osteoporosis can lead to stress fractures in the foot bones and general foot pain.
Weight gain increases the load on your feet, putting more pressure on the nerves, muscles, and joints. The more pressure, the more likely you are to suffer from compression, inflammation, and pain.
Inflammatory lifestyle habits
Inflammation is at the root of most pain conditions, including foot pain. The bad news is that inflammatory habits (like eating processed foods, missing sleep, or drinking alcohol) can worsen your pain and prevent healing. The good news is that an anti-inflammatory lifestyle approach can help reverse the damage and alleviate the pain.
How to Get Rid of Foot Pain Naturally
Ready to get relief? While surgery and steroid injections can help in severe cases, most people can find foot pain relief with natural methods like these:
1) Switch your shoes.
If you have sore or tired feet, perhaps you’re wearing the wrong shoe. The problem could be the size, the width, the arch support, or even the wrong style for the activities you’re doing. Getting your feet measured and fitted can significantly reduce pain and the risk of developing a serious musculoskeletal issue. The simple change to more supportive shoes could make all the difference.
2) Consider a custom orthotic.
Every foot is different, and needs varying levels of support in different areas. A custom-made orthotic is designed to match the exact contours of your feet, so you feel supported right where you need it.
3) Take an Epsom salt foot bath.
A foot soak is not only a relaxing way to wind down and ease the stress of the day, but it could help you fight foot pain, too. Epsom salt baths use a magnesium sulfate compound to ease pain, relax muscles, and promote healing. They can be particularly useful for gout, plantar fasciitis, or generally achy feet.
4) Stretch your feet daily.
Foot pain can be caused by tight, tense muscles and tendons in the feet. By practicing foot stretches, you can restore your foot strength and mobility. Standing calf stretches, toe lifts, and towel pick-ups are some examples of helpful daily foot stretches.
5) Get a massage.
Massage is one of the best ways to ease tension, improve circulation, and alleviate foot pain naturally. Massage helps to relax tight foot muscles, clear away inflammation, and break up adhesions that could be preventing the healing process.
If you can’t get to a qualified massage therapist, you can still get the benefits at home. Try these simple tips for giving yourself a healing foot massage.
6) Get a foot assessment from your local chiropractor.
Foot health is integral to joint and spine health. If you’re suffering from foot pain, it could be affecting other areas in your body. At AlignLife, our chiropractic doctors assess not just your feet, but the entire biodynamic chains that connect your feet to your other joints and muscle groups. This whole-body approach helps ensure that you move pain-free from head to toe.
Stop the Pain and Get Back on Your Feet with AlignLife
Foot pain doesn’t just slow you down. It can wreak havoc on your body and drain your energy. Thankfully, chiropractic assessments, adjustments, and bodywork therapies can help. Along with relieving your foot pain, chiropractic care can also promote healthier posture, improved mobility, and a boost in your natural energy.
Schedule a visit with your local AlignLife chiropractor today to take the first step toward a life without foot pain!