“My Feet Are Killing Me!” – It’s Time to call the Podiatrist

From the occasional twinge to excruciating agony, foot pain can disrupt daily life in various ways. Understanding when it’s time to consult a Podiatrist essential for maintaining optimal foot health.

Below, we’ll explore the spectrum of foot pain, identifying key indicators that distinguish between manageable discomfort and conditions requiring expert attention. By recognising these signs early on, you can take proactive steps to address foot issues and prevent them from escalating into more serious problems.

Sharp/stabbing pain

Experiencing a sudden, sharp pain in your foot, particularly during movement or weight-bearing activities, could signal a  significant underlying issue. This type of pain is typically associated with an acute injury such as a fracture, ligament tear, or tendon rupture.

Fractures occur when there is a break or crack in one or more bones of the foot, commonly resulting from overuse or trauma.  Ligament tears involve the stretching or tearing of the tough bands of tissue that stabilise the joints by connecting bones together. Similarly, tendon ruptures entail the partial or complete tearing of the fibrous tissues connecting muscles to bones, enabling movement.

Each of these injuries typically arise from impact, or from repetitive stress on the foot over time. Ignoring sharp or stabbing foot pain and continuing with regular activities can aggravate the injury, leading to further damage and potentially complicating the healing process.

Seeking immediate medical attention is vital in such cases to accurately diagnose the extent of the injury and initiate appropriate treatment. Delaying treatment can result in impaired mobility, and complications such as chronic instability or arthritis.

A healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist, will conduct a comprehensive evaluation, which may include imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scans, to assess the severity of the injury. Based on the diagnosis, they will recommend the most suitable course of action, which may involve immobilisation of the foot with a cast, brace, or splint to facilitate proper healing.

In some instances, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair severe fractures, ligament tears, or tendon ruptures. Following the initial treatment, physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises may be prescribed to restore strength, flexibility, and function to the foot.

Persistent pain

Persistent pain in the foot, lasting beyond a few days despite attempts at rest, icing, and over-the-counter pain relief, is a signal that there might be an underlying issue at play.

One common cause is plantar fasciitis, characterised by inflammation of the plantar fascia—a thick band of tissue that supports the arch of the foot. This condition often manifests as stabbing pain in the heel, particularly upon taking the first steps in the morning or after prolonged periods of rest.

Tendonitis, another potential culprit, involves inflammation or irritation of the tendons in the foot, typically due to overuse or repetitive strain. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, and stiffness, which typically worsens with movement.

Arthritis (osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis) can also contribute to persistent foot pain. Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage at the ends of bones wears down over time, leading to pain, swelling, and stiffness in the affected joints. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation and damage to the joints, including those in the foot.

Given the diverse range of potential causes, consulting a podiatrist or orthopaedic specialist is crucial for accurate diagnosis. They possess the expertise to conduct a thorough evaluation, which may include physical examinations, imaging studies, and diagnostic tests. Once the root cause of the pain is identified, a personalised treatment plan can be developed to address the specific condition effectively. This may involve a combination of conservative measures such as physical therapy, custom orthotics, corticosteroid injections, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In more severe cases or when conservative treatments fail to provide relief, surgical intervention may be considered.

Numbness/tingling

Persistent numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in the foot or toes may indicate underlying nerve damage or compression. These symptoms are often associated with various conditions, including peripheral neuropathy, Morton’s neuroma, or nerve entrapment syndromes.

Peripheral neuropathy refers to damage to the peripheral nerves, which transmit signals between the central nervous system and the rest of the body. Diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and exposure to toxins are common causes. Symptoms may include numbness, tingling, burning pain, and weakness, typically starting in the toes and feet and spreading upward.

Morton’s neuroma is a condition characterised by the thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to the toes, usually between the third and fourth toes. This can result in sharp, shooting pain, tingling, or numbness in the affected toes, often exacerbated by wearing tight shoes or engaging in activities that put pressure on the foot.

Nerve entrapment syndromes, such as tarsal tunnel syndrome or peroneal nerve entrapment, occur when nerves in the foot become compressed, leading to symptoms like numbness, tingling, and weakness. These conditions can be caused by trauma, repetitive stress injuries, or anatomical abnormalities.

A thorough assessment, including a physical examination and possibly nerve conduction studies or imaging tests, may be conducted by a podiatrist to diagnose the condition accurately.

Depending on the specific condition, treatment may include medication to manage pain and inflammation, physical therapy to improve nerve function and mobility, orthotic devices to alleviate pressure on the affected area, or in some cases, surgical intervention to release the compressed nerve.

Book a visit with a podiatrist

With a team of highly skilled podiatrists, our clinics specialises in diagnosing and treating various foot conditions. Whether you’re experiencing foot pain, discomfort, or noticing changes in foot appearance, our professionals are equipped to provide personalised care tailored to your needs. Don’t hesitate – get in touch with us today to schedule your appointment.

 

preventative footcare
podiatrist
plantar fasciitis