Pain in the foot, when walking is often a signal that something is wrong. It may indicate improper footwear or may result from poor conditioning, overstretching or a serious arthritic condition.
Walking pain can have a devastating effect on your exercise program – you stop exercising, become inactive (atrophy) lose your motivation, and eventually gain weight and lose muscle and fat mass.
Walking pains are usually intense, excruciating, making it completely difficult to walk or carry out daily activities. They can be felt in and around the foot and can extend to the hips, middle of the thighs and lower back or groins.
However, you don’t have to let that gnawing and widespread walking pain prevent you from achieving your fitness and weight loss goals.
There is a wide range of treatment and relief options that will help you solve your condition. In this article, detailed solutions to the seven most common walking pains are discussed. Read on.
1. Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar Fasciitis, also known as policeman’s heel is a very frustrating condition characterized by pain under the heel.
It is often caused by an inflammation of your plantar fascia – a strong band of tissue that supports the arch of your foot.
It stretches from your heel to your toes. When the plantar fascia is strained, it gets weak, inflamed (irritated) and swollen resulting into pain in your heel or the bottom of your foot. The pain is more severe when you stand or walk.
Treatment options for plantar fasciitis include:
- Resting your feet
- Orthotics (supportive footwear or insoles) or wear shoes with good heel cushioning and arch support
- Massage therapy
- Cold therapy
- Wear night splints
- Physical therapy
- Motion control running shoes
- Do some stretching and strengthening exercises
- Cortisone injections
- Surgery in refractory cases
- Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin or any other NSAID to help you reduce inflammation and pain
2. Ingrown Toenail
An ingrown toenail (onychocryptosis) is a painful condition of the toe that occurs when the edge of the toenail grows into the skin of the toe (WebMed.com). It is characterized by swelling, redness, pain and inflammation at the spot where the nail curls, pierces and digs into the skin. According to MedlinePlus,
A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there are several possible causes of an ingrown toenail.
Poorly fitting shoes – too tight or too loose
Toenails that are not properly trimmed
The steps to treating an ingrown toenail at home are simple.
Soak the affected foot in warm water, salty water, lemon solution or alcohol for at least three times a day.
After every soak, wipe your toe dry and gently massage the inflamed skin.
Place, under your nail, a small piece of dental floss (or cotton) that has been wetted with either water or an antiseptic.
In serious cases, your doctor or podiatrist may recommend nail surgery.
There are two types of nail surgeries:
Partial nail avulsion – removal of part of your toenail, and
Total nail avulsion – removal of the whole of your toenail
Here is a one hour video guide on how to treat ingrown toenail by San Francisco Podiatrist.
3. Achilles Tendinitis
The Achilles is the largest tendon in the body. It connects the two major calf muscles – the gastrocnemius and soleus – to your heel bone.
It is very useful when walking, running or jumping (more pictures here). Achilles tendinitis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon. It may result from overuse (repeated stress and strain) of the affected limb due to change in change in footwear, playing or training surface, training types, or intensity of an activity.
Another possible cause is the use of worn-down footwear or footwear that lacks the necessary support to maintain the foot in the normal pronation.
Achilles tendinitis is characterized by pain and stiffness along the Achilles or back of the heel. The pain worsens with activity, and becomes severe after exercise.
Other symptoms include thickening of the Achilles tendon, bone spur (extra bone growth) and swelling.
Treatment of Achilles tendinitis can be either non-surgical or surgical.
- Cold therapy
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication
- Calf stretching exercise
- Physical therapy
- Eccentric Strengthening Protocol – contracting (tightening) a muscle while it is getting longer
- Injection of corticosteroids
- Use of supportive shoes and orthotics
- Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) – use of high-energy shockwave impulses to stimulate the healing process in the damaged tendon tissue
Bunion is medically referred to as a hallux abducto valgus deformity. It is characterized by lateral deviation of the big toe due to enlargement of the bone or tissue around the joint of the great toe. This results into a bump at the base of the size of the big toe facing the second toe.
Other symptoms include thickening and inflammation of the overlying skin next to the affected joint.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (www.apma.org/learn/foothealth.cfm), wearing of well-fitting, roomy footwear is the best solution to preventing or treating bunions. Though it may not cure the deformity, it will help you ease the associated pain.
Avoid high-heeled, pointed or tight shoes. Medically, painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol can help you ease pain.
You can use antibiotics if you notice an infection on the skin or tissues around the affected area. In some cases, surgery may be advised to help straighten the joint and relieve pain.
5. Shin Splints
Shin splints (medial tibial stress syndrome) is a common term in sports medicine given to any shin pain experienced over the front of the tibia bone. It can be caused by muscle overuse resulting into irritation and swelling, stress fractures (tiny breaks in the lower leg bone) or flat feet.
The main aim of shin splints treatment is to reduce pain and inflammation, identify and correct training and biochemical problems and restore muscles to their original condition. Athletes are often asked to:
· Rest to allow the injury to heal
· Apply cold therapy
· Use shin splints stretches can be done to stretch the leg muscles
· Wearing of orthotics (shock absorbing insoles)
· Use of heat trainer or shin and calf support during training
Doctors, on their part, often do:
· Shin splint tapping
· Gait analysis
· Massage therapy
Neuroma, also referred to as “pinched nerve” or nerve tumor is tumor that grows from a nerve or comprises mainly of nerve cells and nerve fibers (Medical Dictionary by Farlex).
It is a painful condition characterized by benign growth of nerve tissue between the third and fourth toes.
Neuroma brings with it pain and a burning sensation between the toes while walking. It has comes with tingling, numbness and swelling between toes
To relief pain, you will need to:
- Wear properly fitting and roomy shoes with thick, shock absorbent soles
- Avoid high-heeled shoes
- Rest your foot and massage the affected area
- Use over-the-counter shoe pads to help you relieve pressure around the affected parts
7. Foot Sprain
Foot pain is a common condition of this part of the body made up of an intricate network of muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments (Mayclinin.org).it is caused by a tear of the ligaments due to poor biochemical alignment and improper footwear.
Sprains are categorized as fairly mild (Grade I), moderate (Grade II) and Severe (Grade III).
Treatment of foot sprains follows the RICE rule:
- Icing (cold therapy)
- Compressing the swelling using an elastic bandage
- Elevating the affected area
Your doctor may recommend that you take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to ease swelling and relieve pain.