Feet woes? The truth behind those tired and achy feet

  • By Dr. T Deepa Porkodi

Foot pain may have become a part of your everyday life to such an extent where you have even started ignoring it; but that doesn’t mean it is alright to have achy feet every day. Start caring for your feet now, before it’s too late.

Following are the different causes behind your achy feet, depending on where you feel the pain:

  1. Heel Region: The most common cause for heel pain is plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia, is the thick band connecting the heel bone to the toes. Though the exact cause of plantar fascitis is not known, it is believed that multiple tiny tears in the fascia, due to improper walking habits and gait, lead to plantar fascitis. It is typically felt in the mornings, with the severity increasing when you try to bend your feet. Commonly treated by rest and over the counter painkillers, plantar fasciitis also responds well to adequately cushioned shoes.
    Heel spurs, or tiny bone outgrowths, are another common cause of heel pain. Heel spurs develop due to an improper gait, strenuous activities, ill-fitting shoes and faulty walking habits. Almost 1 in every 10 individuals has heel spurs. Most of the heel spurs accompany a case of plantar fascitis.
    Fractures of the heel are the most common type of fractures occurring in the foot and are usually caused by a high impact to the heel bone.
  2. Ball of the foot: Ill-fitting shoes and strenuous activity affect the ball of your foot the most. They can cause inflammation of the area, called metatarsalgia. Changing your shoes to better fitting ones and inserting soft cloth pieces or cotton balls into your shoes, to give a cushioning effect to the balls of the feet, are some methods that will reduce the pain. High heels and tight shoes can cause the nerves around the big toe to thicken and get inflamed. The condition, called Morton’s Nueroma, is more common among women. It is seen as foot pain, odd sensations around the big toe and numbness in the area.
  3. Arch of the foot: Pain in this region is commonly due to plantar fascitis. Flat feet are also a major cause for pain in the arches. Athletes are the ones who suffer most from arch pains. Shoe inserts, physiotherapy, walking braces and, in extreme cases, surgery, are the various ways to get relief from arch pain due to flat feet.Corns and warts are also seen commonly in the arch of the foot. Ulcers related to diabetes are also a cause of foot pain originating in the arches.
  4. Toe Region: Gout, a condition caused by deposition of uric acid crystals in the big toe, is the most common cause of toe pains. In women, ill-fitting footwear often leads to bunions. Bunions are painful bony prominences that are seen outwardly along the base of the big toe. Very tight shoes lead to Hammer Toes, a condition where the joint in the toe is bent, due to cramped surroundings, making it look like a hammer.Continuously wearing tight shoes that give no room for the toes to relax and spread out, may result in the toes remaining bent forever, resulting in a condition called ‘claw toes’. Better fitting shoes and stretching exercises help in relieving the bend and stretching the toes.

Diabetes Mellitus is a great foot troubler. Since it affects the nerves, you will not feel any sensations on your feet, as a result of which, you may ignore the small injuries that may lead to serious complications like cellulites or diabetic foot!

Self-help techniques you may try, before consulting your doctor:

  1. Apply ice-packs on the affected area
  2. Take a pain killer
  3. Keep the foot elevated
  4. Rest the foot as much as possible.

You know you need to visit your doctor when any of the following occur:

  1. Sudden and severe pain.
  2. Home remedies fail to provide any relief.
  3. The area causing the pain is red, inflamed or has an open wound.
  4. Pain related to a recent injury.
  5. Foot is unable to bear any kind of weight.
  6. Swelling and discoloration of the affected area.

Tips to prevent foot pain:

  1. Wear shoes that are comfortable, well cushioned and roomy.
  2. Avoid narrow toed and high-heeled shoes.
  3. Do proper stretching exercises before starting any kind of workout.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight.