Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Foot Pain - Introduction

Highlights


Overview

  • About 75% of people in the United States have foot pain at some time in their lives.
  • Nearly all cases of foot pain can be attributed to one of the following:
    • Ill-fitting shoes
    • High-impact exercise
    • Certain medical conditions
  • Foot pain generally starts in one of three places: the toes, the forefoot, or the hindfoot.

Risk Factors

  • Elderly people are at very high risk for foot problems.
  • Women are at higher risk than men for severe foot pain, probably because of high-heeled shoes.
  • Medical Conditions Causing Foot Pain
    • Arthritis
    • Diabetes
    • Obesity
    • Pregnancy
    • Medications

Treatment

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil), may help ease pain and reduce inflammation.
  • The acronym RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation -- the four basic elements of initial treatment for an injured foot.
  • In most cases, stress fractures heal by themselves if you avoid rigorous activities.
  • Stretching the plantar fascia is the mainstay therapy for restoring strength and flexibility in people with plantar fasciitis.
  • For severe conditions, such as fallen arches or structural problems that cause imbalance, podiatrists or physicians may need to prescribe custom orthotics, which are insoles produced to fit the patient's foot.

Prevention

  • Don't ignore foot pain -- it's not normal.
  • Taking a warm footbath for 10 minutes two or three times a week will keep the feet relaxed and may help prevent mild foot pain caused by fatigue.
  • It is critical that people with diabetes see a podiatric physician at least once a year for a checkup.


Review Date: 01/30/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org)