Chronic foot and ankle pain affects more than 20% of adults in the United States, and each one suffers from the condition in a different way. Some people will have flare ups that keep them immobile for days, while others struggle to get through their lives without limping or feeling pain at every step. Some foot pain can be resolved quickly and effectively by treating a common foot condition, while other people must manage their foot pain over their lifetime.
If you’re ready to find an effective pain-relieving solution and decrease your need for pain medication, the podiatry team at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists can help.
Common Causes of Chronic Foot Pain
Chronic foot pain can be caused by a number of conditions and foot problems, making walking and very simple tasks an agonizing challenge. The very first step in helping to alleviate your chronic foot pain is determining its root cause and starting treatment quickly and consistently.
If you have chronic foot pain, it could be associated with heel spurs, flat feet, and other conditions, including:
Arthritis is an inflammatory joint condition that can affect the feet in two major ways: osteoarthritis (wear-and-tear arthritis) and rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune condition). Arthritis in the foot can lead to chronic stiffness, swelling, and pain, particularly during weight-bearing activities, and joints may become deformed over time. Podiatric management involves orthotic devices to provide support, appropriate footwear, and physical therapy for joint mobility. Anti-inflammatory medications may be recommended, and in severe cases, surgical intervention could help repair or fuse joints.
Neuropathy involves damage to peripheral nerves in the foot and other extremities, often caused by diabetes or other systemic conditions. Neuropathy in the foot presents as tingling, burning, or stabbing sensations. Patients may also experience numbness, weakness, and a heightened sensitivity to touch. Podiatrists focus on managing underlying conditions contributing to neuropathy. Medications to control pain, lifestyle modifications, and nerve-specific treatments such as neurostimulation may be used. Orthotic devices can also assist in relieving pressure on sensitive areas.
Chronic Foot Pain Following Surgery
Chronic post-surgical pain is persistent pain lasting beyond the expected healing period after surgery. Patients may experience localized or widespread pain, often described as sharp or aching. The pain can hinder mobility and quality of life. Podiatrists may collaborate with surgeons to address lingering pain, and treatment may include physical therapy and medications.
Chronic Foot Pain Following Trauma
Chronic pain following trauma is persistent pain long after the initial injury has healed, often due to nerve damage or complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Symptoms can vary but may include constant burning pain, swelling, and changes in skin color or temperature. Podiatric treatment involves addressing the root cause, utilizing physical therapy, pain management strategies, and, in some cases, surgical interventions.
Tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon in the foot, such as the Achilles tendon, often due to an overuse injury. Pain, swelling, and tenderness of the affected tendon are common, and movement may be restricted. Treatment may include rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), orthotics, and physical therapy, while we may also utilize anti-inflammatory medications or injections.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
CRPS is a chronic pain condition often triggered by trauma or surgery, resulting in disproportionate and lasting pain and inflammation. Severe, continuous pain, changes in skin color and temperature, and abnormal sweating characterize CRPS. Our podiatrists focus on pain management, physical therapy, and sympathetic nerve blocks in order to treat this painful condition.
Morton’s neuroma is a thickening of tissue around a nerve in the ball of the foot. Patients experience sharp, burning pain and/or the sensation that there’s a pebble or stone in their shoe. Conservative measures such as changing footwear, using orthotics, and having corticosteroid injections are common, while surgery may be considered in severe cases.
Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a band of tissue connecting the heel to the toes. This condition may cause heel pain, especially in the morning or after periods of inactivity. Treatment includes rest, stretching exercises, orthotics, and anti-inflammatory medications. Severe cases may require corticosteroid injections or surgical intervention.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
The foot version of carpal tunnel syndrome, this condition is the compression of the posterior tibial nerve within the tarsal tunnel. Patients may experience severe pain, burning, tingling, and numbness along the inner ankle and sole. Conservative measures that may provide relief involve rest, orthotics, and physical therapy. In severe cases, surgical decompression may be necessary.
No matter what causes your chronic foot pain or how minor or severe it seems, you don’t have to live with it another day. The podiatrists at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists have options to help relieve your pain.
Is Your Foot Pain Serious Enough to See a Podiatrist?
If your foot pain is in any way affecting the quality of your life, you should seek the help of a podiatrist. Maybe the pain is stopping you from engaging in your favorite hobby, preventing you from exercising, or just making it hard to do everyday tasks, such as taking a walk or cooking in your kitchen. Whatever your situation, there is zero reason to live with ongoing and persistent pain or discomfort.
At Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists, we believe in healthy feet for life. At an initial consultation, one of our doctors will listen to your story and the symptoms you have, examine your feet, and order any tests that may help determine what’s causing your chronic pain. Once we have a diagnosis, treatment can begin to reduce pain, and your life can resume.