Walking is considered one of the easiest and most effective forms of exercise. It’s true, as long as you are not dealing with foot pain that makes every step painful.
Foot pain is a common problem. Nearly one in five adults in a community study to assess the prevalence of the problem reported having foot pain.
The 2008 study published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research found that it was more common in women than men and mostly associated with increased age, obesity and pain in other areas of the body.
Foot pain has a significant detrimental impact on health-related quality of life, the study also noted.
Most of us do not devote much care to our feet until it’s too late and we’re in pain. It’s easy to take them for granted when they are working properly.
Our feet bear our body weight when we are standing and help us move around with ease. The foot has almost as many bones as the hand and wrist.
Pain or discomfort can occur in the toes, heels, arches, soles or other parts of the foot.
It can range from mild to severe and may last a short time or be an ongoing issue. No matter what, an aching foot takes the pleasure out of most daily activities.
Pain in the feet can be due to several reasons, both lifestyle factors and serious health problems.
You can get rid of mild pain at home. However, for serious pain, you need to see a podiatrist.
Here are the top 10 reasons why your feet hurt all the time and how to fix it.
1. Plantar Fasciitis
This common foot problem starts in the connective tissue that connects the heel to the toes. When it becomes injured or inflamed, it may cause arch and heel pain.
Wearing proper footwear with arch support and strengthening and stretching the feet and calves are equally important.
2. Flat feet
Fallen arches occur when the tendons in your calves don’t pull together properly. This causes the natural upward arch in the middle of your foot to fall flat. Children and pregnant women experience fallen arches, but only temporarily. Aging, diabetes, genetics, injury, and obesity may also cause the condition.
To ease the swelling and aches, orthotics might be order. It’s also advised to seek help from a podiatrist to get a proper diagnosis.
3. Heel Spurs
Heel spurs are growths of little calcium deposit protrusions under heel bones. Some heel spurs are painless while others cause heal pain or even plantar fasciitis.
Exercise, custom-made orthotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and cortisone injections can all treat heel spurs, but surgery might be required if the condition is too advanced. Losing weight, avoiding running, and wearing proper shoes can help treat and prevent the condition.
Calluses are the thick patches of skin that develop on the points of your foot that rub most often on your shoes. They’re often on the ball of the foot, and are especially common when you also have bunions (we’ll get to those!). Even though they’re your body’s way of protecting your feet from friction, they can eventually cause a bit more pain as they build up and get in the way. Prevention recommends soaking your feet in warm water and then moisturising. When your feet are nice and soft you can gently exfoliate the calluses with pumice stone. If they’re especially bad, a podiatrist can remove them with a blade.
5. Achilles Tendonitis
Your Achilles tendon, which attaches to your heel bone at the back of your foot, can become irritated and inflamed when it’s overused, says Fuchs. The result is tendonitis, and runners are particularly susceptible, she says, as are those who regularly wear high heels. Other potential, though not as common, causes include inflammatory illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
6. Bunions and Hammertoes
These painful deformities of the great toe (bunions) and smaller toes (hammertoes) can be genetic, but they get worse if you consistently wear too-tight shoes, says Suzanne C. Fuchs, DPM, a holistic podiatrist and fitness specialist in New Hyde Park, NY. “These joints commonly become painful when shoes rub against them and cause inflammation, swelling, and redness,” she says. With bunions, a firm, painful bump develops at the base of the big toe, sometimes causing that toe to veer diagonally toward the second toe. Hammertoes happen when one of the toe muscles becomes weak and, as a result, puts pressure on the tendons and joints in one or more toes, causing the toe to stick up at the joint.
The fix: Choose the right shoes. To help prevent bunions and hammertoes in the first place, make sure you’re wearing shoes with a wider toe box, says Fuchs. There should be about a half-inch of space between the tip of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. “Your shoes shouldn’t cause too much pressure on your feet and toes or cause them to crunch up,” she says. You might also add specific padding to help alleviate calluses (caused when these enlarged toe joints rub against your shoes), or add orthotics to your shoes, says Fuchs. “These can improve the biomechanics of the foot, helping to balance the muscles and tendons and stop bunions and hammertoes from worsening.”
7. Ingrown Toenails
Ingrown toenails cause a throbbing, painful sensation, and usually affect the big toes.
An ingrown toenail occurs when the side edge of your nail curls down and digs into the toe’s skin, causing pain that makes you aware of a toe that you don’t normally even think about.
Wearing shoes that are too tight or too narrow can exacerbate an ingrown toenail.
To fix the problem:
– Enjoy a warm water foot soak a few times a day to reduce swelling, pain and tenderness. To increase the effectiveness, add a little Epsom salt or apple cider vinegar to the water.
– After soaking, you can use cotton or floss to gently lift the nail edge so that it doesn’t grow further into your skin.
– You can trim the nail yourself if there’s no infection.
– In case of an infection, always see your doctor or a podiatrist.
– To help prevent this problem, always cut your toenails straight across and don’t file the corners down.
8. Stone bruise
This is an extremely painful bruise, usually caused by an impact injury or by stepping on a hard object. It often feels like you have a stone in your shoe! Like any bruise it will go away by itself, but until then WebMD recommends resting your foot and icing the area.
9. Sprains and strains
Exercising excessively or without proper form are both common causes of these minor injuries. They can also occur sudden trauma, such as a fall, twist, or blow to the body.
Treat these injuries with rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If the pain doesn’t subside, visit your doctor, you may be suffering from a muscle tear or a more serious injury.
Gout falls under the arthritis spectrum, as it brings sudden burning pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint, typically in the big toe.
Left untreated, gout attacks come over and over again until they harm your joints, tendons, and other tissues.
Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood, which accumulates into crystals in the joint. People who are overweight, drink too much alcohol, eat too much meat and fish, and take diuretics regularly are at a higher risk.
During a gout attack, rest the affected joint, ice and elevate it, and take anti-inflammatory foods. It’s also a good idea to drink plenty of water to flush out the excess uric acid.