If you experience foot pain, you may think ignoring it and powering through your daily activities anyways is an honorable choice. But while your intentions are good, powering through foot pain is rarely the right choice. Ongoing foot pain is often caused by an underlying medical condition — often a serious one that requires treatment.
The following are three possible causes of the foot pain you've been ignoring.
Do you often experience pain in your big toe or ankle that appears suddenly, often in the evening or early morning? Your toe may also become very tender, red, and stiff. You might experience these symptoms for a few days on end, and then they fade away, only to return again a few weeks later.
These are classic symptoms of gout, a form of arthritis caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals in your joints. If left unaddressed, gout can move up your legs, eventually affected your knees, wrists, hands, and other joints. And even in its beginning stages, it can interrupt your sleep and keep you from activities that you love.
If your doctor confirms your gout diagnosis, treatment is available. They may prescribe you steroids to take during an attack to help relieve inflammation in the joint. Following a specialized diet will also help minimize the amount of uric acid in your bloodstream. While you're awaiting a diagnosis, you can elevate your foot, apply ice to the sore area, and take ibuprofen for relief during an attack.
2. Heel Spurs
Is the pain most prominent when you step down and put pressure on your heel? The pain may have begun as a mild ache, but now it is sharper and more serious, making it difficult to walk on your heel. These are the symptoms of heel spurs, which are bony projections from the foot bone that forms your heel. The pain occurs when you put pressure on that bony projection.
Heel spurs come on slowly; they are not the result of a single injury. They are most common in athletes and those who spend a lot of time walking and standing. Some at-home remedies you can use for temporary pain relief include:
- Ice packs applied to the sore area
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, like ibuprofen, taken according to package instructions
- Orthotic shoe inserts to take pressure off the heel
If your doctor diagnoses you with heel spurs and the at-home remedies above do not supply enough relief, you may need surgery. Your surgeon will remove the bony growth, making walking more comfortable again.
3. Metatarsal Stress Fractures
Are you an active runner or athlete who is experiencing worsening pain along the top of your foot? Some athletes attribute this pain to muscle soreness or a mild strain, when really it is due to a metatarsal stress fracture. A metatarsal stress fracture is a small fracture in one of the bones that form the top of your foot that occurs due to repetitive movement during running or jumping.
Metatarsal stress fracture pain usually diminishes when you're resting, but it worsens once you start walking around or working out. You may notice some bruising or redness in the top of your foot too. Continuing to run or work out with a stress fracture will deepen the fracture, making it harder to heal, and may also cause damage to the tissues around the damaged bone.
Most metatarsal stress fractures heal in about six to eight weeks with rest and some time in a protective boot. If you have been running on the fracture for a while and it has worsened, you may need surgery to fix the bone fragments in place and encourage healing.
If you are suffering with any type of foot pain, do not just ignore the pain and power through it. Failing to treat an underlying injury or ailment will just cause it to worsen over time. Contact Huntsville Podiatry Center PC to schedule an appointment for diagnosis.