Physical Therapy for Foot Pain

We will discuss what physiotherapy entails as well as how you can get started on your journey working with a physical therapist towards feeling better!

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Physical therapy can help you to recover from foot pain

The foot is such an important part of the body and it can be difficult to deal with any pain or discomfort that we may feel in this region. 

Foot pain is often the result of a number of different things, including stress, illness, injury, and even compliations from obesity. While there are many effective treatments for foot pain on offer today, physical therapy has been shown to help relieve symptoms of all types of foot pain.

Anatomy of the foot

Before we can begin to discuss what physiotherapy is as well as how it works, we first need to understand the complicated structures of your foot. The foot is made up of a number of different bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons which all play an important role in supporting our weight and helping us to walk and run as we move through our day-to-day lives.

The foot is a complex structure as many different bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles work together to form the foot. The foot needs to be healthy and strong in order to support our weight while walking or running, but also need to be flexible so that we can move using our feet for a whole range of different activities.

The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that sits at the bottom of our feet and acts to support the arch. This tissue can become damaged due to overuse, or it may be weak from birth which means that our arches are naturally lower than they should be. This can result in a foot structure and arch that is flat, meaning there isn’t enough cushioning when we place pressure on the feet.  

This lack of natural arch support places excess strain on the ball of our foot and the structures surrounding it. Over time this repeated strain can cause pain in the bottom of your foot (plantar fasciitis) and make it difficult to walk or stand for longer periods of time.

Primary Types of Foot Pain

Tendonitis

Tendons are the tough fibrous tissues that connect our muscles to bones, tendons can become inflamed due to undue stress placed on them through activity or injury. Most people think of tendonitis as just one condition however there are actually many types of tendonitis, the most common of which is  Achilles Tendonitis. The Achilles tendon runs along the back of your calf and connects your calf muscles to the back of your heel. When this tendon becomes inflamed from overuse.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that results from damage to the peripheral nerves. This can be caused by a number of factors, including diabetes, trauma, infection, autoimmune diseases, and exposure to toxins. When the peripheral nerves are damaged, it can lead to a wide range of symptoms, including pain, numbness, tingling, burning sensations, and weakness.

There are a number of treatments for peripheral neuropathy, but the most effective treatment is often a combination of therapies. Some of the most common treatments include medications to control pain and inflammation, physical therapy, and changes to your diet and lifestyle.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a condition that results in pain in the bottom of the foot. This pain is often caused by inflammation of the tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, known as the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia can become damaged due to overuse, or it may be weak from birth which means that our arches are naturally lower than they should be. This can result in a foot structure and arch that is flat, meaning there isn’t enough cushioning when we place pressure on the feet.

This lack of natural arch support places excess strain on the ball of our foot and the structures surrounding it. Over time this repeated strain can cause pain in the bottom of your foot (plantar fasciitis) and make it difficult to walk or stand for longer periods of time. This can become especially painful in the morning when we first wake up.

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common foot conditions, with many people experiencing symptoms at some point in their lives. The major risk factors for plantar fasciitis are being overweight or obese, having tight calf muscles, an abnormal foot structure that is flat-footed. There are also some other factors that can contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis such as an increased amount of time spent on your feet during the day, and wearing shoes with little support or shock absorption.

Sesamoiditis or Sesamoid Stress Fracture

The sesamoid bones are two small pea-shaped bones in the foot that act as a pulley for tendons to move over. These bones can become problematic when they experience stress or pressure, and this can lead to pain in the ball of the foot. This pain is often caused by inflammation and swelling in one or both of the sesamoid bones. The pain from a sesamoid injury can be severe, and it is often described as a sharp or stabbing pain that makes it difficult to walk.

Pain from a sesamoid fracture can become more severe with activity, and it usually worsens at night when you are resting. In most cases, the pain will feel better with ice while sitting or standing, but it will become more intense when you are walking.

Physical therapy is the preferred treatment for sesamoiditis. Treatments may include rest, ice, strapping to offload the painful area, manual therapy to reduce swelling and increase blood flow into the injured tissue, customized orthotics, and ultrasound to reduce inflammation.

Pain resulting from sesamoiditis can be treated by reducing or avoiding activities that put stress on the sesamoids, warming up before activity, using anti-inflammatory medication, and wearing a heel lift in your shoe.

Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia is a condition that causes pain in the ball of your foot. This pain can be caused by a number of different things, such as stress fractures, broken bones, or overuse. The pain is often described as a burning or throbbing sensation and can make it difficult to walk or stand for long periods of time. Treatment for metatarsalgia usually includes rest, ice, and compression, as well as physical therapy to help stretch and strengthen the muscles in the foot.

Metatarsalgia is often treated with anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, custom shoe inserts called orthotics to offload the metatarsal heads, and a change in footwear.

Flat feet

Having flat feet is often an inherited condition in which the arches of your feet are not as high or pronounced as they should be.

The most common type of flat foot is known as pes planus, or fallen arches. This condition is caused by weakened ligaments that hold the bones of the midfoot together. A smaller number of people have a more severe flat foot that is caused by a high arch collapsing.

Treatment for flat feet usually focuses on improving balance, strengthening the muscles in your legs and ankles, and first reducing pain.

Physical therapy treatments may include ice to reduce swelling, stretches to increase flexibility in your calf muscles, strength training exercises designed to improve your posture, exercises to strengthen the muscles in your feet and ankles, and orthotic devices to support the arch of your foot.

Neuroma

A neuroma is a thickening or swelling of the nerve tissue in one or more of your toes. Neuromas occur when pressure on the nerves causes them to grow and connect with other nearby nerves through a series of swellings called ganglion can, which cause severe pain.

Symptoms of a neuroma will depend on where the growth occurs and can include pain while walking or standing, pain while wearing shoes and socks, numbness in the toe itself, and a burning sensation.

Neuromas can be painful and debilitating conditions to live with, but they are usually easy to treat. Your healthcare provider may suggest you wear specially designed insoles that provide cushioning for your foot along with arch support, as well as a rigid orthotic that puts your foot into a neutral position. In addition to these treatments, your doctor may also recommend medication and physical therapy.

Heel spurs

A heel spur is a bony growth that forms on the calcaneus or heel bone of your foot. These spurs typically form on the posterior side of the heel and are often found in people who have plantar fasciitis or other types of soft tissue damage in their feet.

The symptoms associated with neoplastic disease depend on where the growth occurs and can include pain, tenderness, or swelling over the area.

Treatment for heel spurs will often depend on their size and location, but it is usually done with orthotic devices to relieve pressure off of the painful areas. Other treatments may include anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and swelling or physical therapy to strengthen your foot and lower leg muscles.

Hammertoes

A hammertoe is a toe that is bent into a claw-like position at the middle joint. This can happen when your toe is too stiff or too tightly squeezed inside your shoe, which puts pressure on the toe and causes it to bend.

Depending on how severe your hammertoe is, you may not need any treatment other than wearing well-fitting shoes that don’t constrict your toes. If the pain is significant, your doctor may recommend orthotic devices to offload the area or prescribe anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

Foot Fracture

A foot fracture is a break in one of the bones in your foot and can range from simple hairline cracks to multiple breaks.

Fractures typically affect people over 60 years old, but younger people may also be affected if they sustain an injury that puts significant force on their feet or ankles. A common cause for a fracture is falling and landing on an outstretched foot.

Hammertoes

A hammertoe is a toe that is bent into a claw-like position at the middle joint. This can happen when your toe is too stiff or too tightly squeezed inside your shoe, which puts pressure on the toe and causes it to bend.

Depending on how severe your hammertoe is, you may not need any treatment other than wearing well-fitting shoes that don’t constrict your toes. If the pain is significant, your doctor may recommend orthotic devices to offload the area or prescribe anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

Foot Fracture

A foot fracture is a break in one of the bones in your foot and can range from simple hairline cracks to multiple breaks.

Fractures typically affect people over 60 years old, but younger people may also be affected if they sustain an injury that puts significant force on their feet or ankles. A common cause for a fracture is falling and landing on an outstretched foot.

Arthritis of the foot

Arthritis of the foot is a less common form of arthritis but still affects many people. There are different types of arthritis that can occur in your feet, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis usually occurs with age or after an injury to your foot or ankle, resulting in pain and stiffness in the joints. If the pain is severe, your doctor might suggest surgical procedures or steroid injections to reduce inflammation and increase the range of motion.

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues, resulting in swelling, stiffness, pain, fatigue weakness, and deformity in your hands and feet. This type of arthritis can be difficult to treat, but your doctor might suggest medication or surgery.

Physical therapy treatments for arthritis include icing and heating your foot, ultrasound, electrical stimulation to reduce pain and increase range of motion, massage therapy, acupuncture, and strengthening exercises to improve supporting muscles around your joints.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition that occurs when the posterior tibial nerve is compressed or pressed on in your foot and results in pain, numbness, and weakness of the surrounding muscles and tendons.

This type of syndrome can be caused by many different factors but can often be treated with non-surgical methods such as orthotic devices and physical therapy. Treatments for tarsal tunnel syndrome may also include injection of steroid medication into the affected area to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

Turf toe

A turf toe is an overuse injury common among athletes who play sports on grass. This type of syndrome occurs when the ligament at the base of your big toe stretches too far, causing damage to the bone underneath it.

Treatments for this syndrome depend on its severity but may include over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, rest, and possibly surgery to repair the ligament.

Physical therapy treatments for turf toe will also depend on its severity but may consist of ice or heat treatment to relieve pain, ultrasound to reduce inflammation, massage therapy to loosen up tight muscles around your foot joints, and exercises that improve muscle strength in your lower leg.

Toe Pain

Toe pain can be caused by a number of different conditions, some of which are related to the foot and others that affect the toes directly. Injuries to the toes can include bursitis (inflammation in the tissue near a joint), fractures, nerve entrapment syndrome, myositis ossificans (bone growth), and arthritis. Arthritis of the toes can affect the joints in your toe causing them to become swollen and stiff.

Ball of foot pain can also be caused by stress fractures or broken bones in the ball of your foot. Fractured metatarsals can be caused by trauma due to overuse of the foot. Stress fractures are small cracks in the bone that occur from repeated stress placed on it, they most often occur in runners and athletes with high impact routines.

Heel Pain

Heel pain can be the result of plantar fasciitis or it can occur for other reasons. Heel pain is often caused by inflammation of the tissue that surrounds your heel bone (plantar fascia), but it can also be caused by stress fractures, tendonitis, arthritis, nerve entrapment syndrome, and many other conditions.

Arch Pain

Pain in the arch of your foot can be caused by a flat or collapsed arch, which means that you don’t have enough cushioning at the ball of your feet. Having flat feet is something that you are born with and can’t really be treated, but it does mean that you are more prone to developing plantar fasciitis or heel pain as you age.

Stress Fractures

A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone that occurs due to repeated stress placed on it. This can be caused by overuse or an increase in activity level, but it can also be brought on from trauma or impact injuries. These

More causes of foot pain

Corns

The buildup of thick layers of skin on your feet can lead to corns, which are typically found on the soles of your feet.

Bunions

A bunion is a bump that begins to form at the base of your big toe, caused by inflammation in one or more joints.

Plantar Warts

Plantar warts are growths on your feet caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Athlete's Foot

Athlete’s foot is a contagious fungus that infects between 10 and 30 percent of the population. It can be contracted by walking barefoot in areas where the fungus exists, or through physical contact with an infected person.

Fungal Nail Infection

A fungal nail infection is caused by an overgrowth of yeast beneath your toenails, often due to a weakening of your nails. The symptoms include thickened, yellowed, or discolored nails with white spots on the surface.

Ingrown Toenail

An ingrown toenail is a condition that occurs when your toe’s nail grows into the soft flesh at the side of your nails, causing persistent pain and swelling and often redness around the affected area.

How Physical Therapy
Can Help Foot Pain

Physical therapists are specially trained to diagnose the cause of your foot pain and prescribe treatments based on your needs. These might include rest, ice or heat treatments, therapeutic exercises, physical therapy modalities like ultrasound or electrical stimulation-or some combination of all of these.

With physical therapy, the main goal is to minimize pain while restoring function to the ankle. By performing exercises to improve movement and strength, you can help support the ankle while it heals as well as address any muscle weakness that may have led to the injury occurring in the first place.

Your therapist may also recommend orthotic footwear for you to wear in order to correct any biomechanical issues with your feet. The goal is always relief from symptoms so you can get back to doing the things you love most without limitations caused by chronic foot pain!

Get back to your daily activities

Your first step should be talking with a physical therapist about what’s causing your foot problems and pain and how we can work together to develop a plan to get your back to your daily activities as quickly as possible!

Foot fix: Massage and stretch your feet and calves.

Foot fix: Choose the right shoes.

Our Clients Success Stories​

Want to give a big shoutout to Dr Denise Miano and Impact Care Therapy. I feel like there is hope for me. It has been really hard mentally not being able to be more active and for the first time, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. If anyone needs PT I recommend going here ❤️
Adrienne B
I have been seeing Manny and Denise for exactly a month. In that time, I am noticing significant improvements to my abilities. I have not been able to do jumping jacks, jog or teach class without my brace in over a year and a half. I’ve been able to do all of that since I started going to Impact Care Therapy. I’m excited about the progress I will continue to make in the coming months.
Jamie Nicole
My wife had a stroke 20 years ago that left her right side paralyzed and she walks with a cane and right leg brace. I was having lower back and shoulder pain. Manny and Denise have made significant improvements in my wife's balance and walking. Manny brought in a brace company to build her a new and different style of brace which has resulted in much less foot and leg pain after walking. My back and shoulder pain are now gone and I continue to work with them on conditioning and weight management.
Steve Jones
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Contact Impact Care Physical Therapy To Treat Your Foot Pain

If you have been experiencing foot pain, contact the physical therapists at Impact Care Physical Therapy today. We can help you find a treatment plan that will relieve your foot condition and get you back on your feet quickly so you can continue living your life to the fullest.

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