Your feet are made up of 26 bones and undergo a tremendous amount of stress with every step you take. This constant daily pounding can lead to pain, injury and, over time, arthritis. Chronic foot pain and degeneration can be avoided with a little tender loving care. Wear comfortable shoes, ice when sore and stay active and flexible. Consult a podiatrist for additional guidance.
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Causes and Injuries
Tripping, falling or dropping something heavy on your foot can lead to a bruise, muscle or tendon strain, causing pain on the top of your foot. Overtraining, a sudden increase in training load and shoes tied too tightly can lead to foot pain and chronic foot injuries such as arthritis, extensor tendinitis and metatarsal stress fractures. Other possible causes of foot pain include an impinged nerve either in your foot or low back. However, nerve impingement is usually accompanied with numbness and tingling.
High heels, sandals and other trendy shoes that are more pleasing to the eye than comfortable can increase your risk of foot pain, according to an "Arthritis Today" article by Dorothy Foltz-Gray. Walking in those same shoes for long distances, on pavement or up and down stairs daily leads to further aggravation and discomfort. Add a flat or high arch to the equation and you increase your risk for a foot injury even more. Muscle tightness and weakness and joint misalignment can lead to poor walking mechanics and eventually foot injuries as well. Additional risk factors include your age, genetics and weight.
Rest, ice, compression and elevation of your foot and ankle help to reduce inflammation and pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen may be taken to alleviate persistent pain and symptoms. Your physician might prescribe or administer prescription arthritis medications or corticosteroid injections, depending on your situation. For metatarsal stress fractures, immobilization of your foot with a cast or walking boot may be necessary to reduce pain and promote proper healing. Physical therapy may also be helpful in strengthening your muscles and increasing joint mobility, especially with chronic injuries and prolonged inactivity. Surgery is an additional treatment option for severe injuries, when conservative treatment is unsuccessful.
To prevent future foot injuries and pain, wear well-cushioned, supportive and comfortable shoes, and replace them when they become worn. If you have to wear uncomfortable shoes such as high heels, consider purchasing orthotics to add cushion and support. Stretch your foot, ankle and calf after walking and progress slowly with your walking regimen. For example, walk every other day instead of every day to give your feet a break. In between walking days, perform other activities that are easier on your feet such as water walking and biking to maintain foot health and prevent further pain.