timberland steel toe Causes and Relief for Common Pain Points
Heel pain is the most common problem affecting the foot, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), and plantar fasciitisis the most common cause of heel pain. If the first step you take when you get out of bed in the morning feels like a sharp pain under your heel, you probably have plantar fasciitis, or inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that connects the heel to the front of your foot and supports your arch.
Plantar fasciitis, which usually stems from repeated stress to the foot that strains the fascia beyond its normal extension, is often worse after long periods of inactivity and temporarily diminishes as you begin to walk around. “The fascia relaxes when you’re sleeping and the swelling kicks in more,” says Jacqueline Sutera, DPM, a podiatric surgeon in New York City. “Then, when you stand, you put all your body weight on this inflamed tissue.”
“Plantar fasciitisis aggravated by tight muscles in your feet and calves,” says Dr.
Wearing shoes (even slippers) with good arch support is also key, since supporting the arch takes tension off the fascia. Flip flops, ballerina flats, and going barefoot are no no’s. Your weight and gait may play a role too: In one study, people with chronic plantar fasciitis were three times more likely to be obese and nearly four times more likely to have feet that roll inward more than normal, so consider orthotics to decrease strain on the plantar fascia.
If pain lingers longer than two weeks, see your doctor, who may recommend physical therapy, cortisone injections, or a night splint.
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A heel spur is growth of extra bone that protrudes from the base or the back of the heel. It often occurs alongside plantar fasciitis, has similar symptoms (sharp pain at the back of the bottom of the foot), and responds to the same treatments, but despite common belief the conditions are not the same. In fact, heel spurs aren’t necessarily even a problem: According to the AAOS, while one out of 10 people have them, only one out of 20 people with heel spurs experiences foot pain.
While heel spurs by themselves may not be painful, these pointy calcifications can cause irritation in the surrounding tissue, including where the plantar fascia attaches onto the heel bone, says Dr. Sutera. Common causes of heel spurs are repetitive trauma to the base of the heel, obesity, poorly fitting shoes, or genetics. Treatment is rest, managing pain with NSAIDs, ice, and stretching, and correcting biomechanical problems with shoe inserts.
Bottom of foot pain:Plantar warts
Feel like you have pebbles in your shoe? Check the soles of your feet for plantar warts. Plantar warts are caused by an infection in the skin due to one of the many forms of human papillomaviruses (HPV). But unlike other types of warts, the plantar variety doesn’t grow outward; instead, the pressure from walking and standing causes them to grow into the skin, creating pain and tenderness on the bottom of your feet. You may develop just one wart or they may occur in a cluster (called mosaic warts). Because they’re flat and tough, it’s easy to confuse plantar warts for calluses. Warts are more likely to have black seed like dots, which are small areas of dried blood.
Plantar warts can disappear with no treatment at all, but it may take several years. They don’t pose a serious health threat, but they can cause discomfort and pain, so you may want to speed their departure. Over the counter peeling medications or patches contain salicylic acid to gradually dissolve the dead cells of the warts.
If your wart doesn’t improve with home treatment, your doctor can try using liquid nitrogen to freeze it off or burning, scraping, cutting, or shaving it off. Warts are contagious, so to avoid getting or spreading them, wear flip flops in locker rooms, don’t touch someone else’s wart, and since moisture tends to allow warts to spread keep foot warts dry.
These thick, hard patches of skin form over time as part of your body’s normal protection against prolonged rubbing or pressure the buildup helps protect the underlying skin. (Calluses are not to be confused with blisters, which have a watery liquid inside and tend to develop more quickly.) When calluses appear on the feet, they’re typically on the underside (sole), often on the ball or heel, and they can be painful when standing or walking. Ill fitting shoes are frequently the culprit, but gait issues can create excess pressure that causes skin to thicken too.
To treat a callus, NYC dermatologist Sejal Shah, MD, recommends using a pumice stone to gently remove the buildup of dead skin after bathing. Be careful not to take off too much skin, which can cause bleeding and infection. Then apply a moisturizer with salicylic acid, urea, or ammonium lactate twice a day to the area to gradually soften tough skin. Avoid razors and scissors (you don’t want to cut into living tissue and expose it to infection!), and don’t use a medically treated pad unless your doctor advises you to. “Try to avoid any repetitive actions that may be causing the calluses,” advises Dr. Shah, who also suggests using cushioned pads to protect calluses from further irritation: Cut a piece of moleskin into two half moon shapes and place them around the callus. To prevent future calluses, wear properly fitting shoes and consider orthotics to correct any gait abnormality.
Unlike many foot problems, which are felt but not seen, it’s easy to spot bunions, the bony protrusions that form at the base of the big toe. Bunions are caused by faulty foot mechanics that affect the way you walk: Years of abnormal motion and pressure on the big toe joint forces the big toe to tilt in toward the second toe. As the bones are progressively thrown out of alignment, the telltale bump appears. People with certain foot types flat feet, low arches, or feet that roll inward are most likely to develop bunions. Since the mechanical structure of your feet is often inherited, bunions tend to run in families.
The big toe joint carries much of your weight while walking, so untreated bunions can cause severe and constant pain. The fluid filled sac surrounding the joint can also become inflamed, compounding the problem. Symptoms mostly occur when you wear shoes that crowd the toes (think narrow, pointy shoes or high heels), which may explain why the American Podiatric Medical Association says that women are up to nine times more likely than men to develop bunions. To reduce pain, opt for shoes with a wide toe box and heels two inches or lower. Gel pads placed over bunions can cushion the area and reduce pain. Also helpful are ice, NSAIDs, and avoiding activity that causes pain, including standing for long periods of time.
For severely inflamed bunions, your doctor can inject cortisone right into the joint to reduce swelling and discomfort. If a bunion continues to worsen, becomes very painful, or begins to affect your mobility, you may want to consider surgery to realign the joint and shave off the protruding bone. Don’t wait too long though, advises Dr. Sutera. “Results may not be as good when the problem is too severe.”
Corns and calluses are essentially the same thing, except corns occur on parts of your feet that don’t bear weight, such as the sides or tops of toes. “They’re usually small and circular with a well defined center that can be hard or soft,” says Dr. Shah, who notes that mushy corns tend to develop between the toes where the skin is moist and sweaty. Unlike blisters, which form quickly, corns develop over time as a result of repeated friction and can be painful when you walk or stand. Treatment is the same as for calluses: Buff to remove the buildup of skin and moisturize regularly to soften skin. Corns can form when too long toenails force the toes to push up against your shoe, so keep your toenails trimmed to help prevent them.
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that triggers a sudden episode of burning pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint often in the joint of the big toe. The guilty party in gout is an excess of uric acid, a substance that’s naturally found in the body. While your body is usually proficient at regulating the level of uric acid in your blood, too much can lead to the creation of crystals that are deposited in joints.
A gout attack happens when something (such as an evening of drinking) causes uric acid levels to spike or jostles the needle like crystals in your joints. The pain usually strikes at night and intensifies over the next eight to 12 hours before easing after a few days. Gout is more common in men than women, and an unlucky 60% of people who have an attack will have a second one within a year. To prevent future attacks, your doctor may prescribe medication, as well as suggest lifestyle changes, including modifying your diet to lower your body’s level of uric acid.
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If a toe (usually the second, third, or fourth) becomes bent upward in the middle in a V shape so it looks like it could hammer a nail, you’re said to have a hammertoe. This often occurs in conjunction with other toe problems, like bunions or corns on top of the bent toe where it rubs against your shoe. Hammertoes develop over time, often from wearing high heeled or toe cramping shoes that push toes into a flexed position. Initially, hammertoes are flexible and can be corrected; if left untreated, toe muscles are unable to straighten and the deformity can become permanent.
Step one to reducing the pain and stopping the progression of a hammertoe is to buy shoes with soft, roomy toe boxes that can accommodate the hammertoe. Placing cushioned pads on the tops of hammertoes may prevent or limit corns. Taping the bent and painful toe to a neighboring straight one (called “buddy taping”) or using straps and splints to keep a hammertoe in its correct place are also helpful. Exercises, such as using your toes to pick things like marbles up off the floor, can stretch and strengthen muscles. If conservative measures fail to alleviate pain, you may need surgery.
Any toenail can become ingrown, but this painful problem is most common on the big toe. Ingrown toenails occur when the nail grows into the surrounding skin or when the skin on one or both sides of a nail grows over the nail’s edge. The toe might throb and become red and swollen. The real agony sets in if the skin around the toenail becomes infected, which can happen if the nail pierces the skin. “It causes so much pain with every step that people are literally tortured by it,” says Dr. Sutera.
She recommends treating ingrown toenail pain by soaking feet in warm water and Epsom salts to reduce inflammation. Then, gently nudge the skin away from the nail bed with a cotton swab and smooth the corner of the nail with an unused fine emery board. Swab the area with antibiotic cream. See a physician if there’s swelling, redness, pus, or increased pain; chances are the skin has become infected.
You might get an ingrown toenail after injuring your toe, but too tight shoes and poor nail grooming habits are the main causes of ingrown nails. To prevent future ingrowns, cut nails straight across and then file the corners into a slightly rounded shape avoid “points” that can jab skin.
Almost everyone will eventually develop some degree of osteoarthritis (OA), which is caused by the wear and tear on the cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between bones. As the cartilage breaks down, bones rub against each other, causing pain and restricting movement. The most common site of OA in the foot is in the joint at the base of the big toe, according to the AAOS. Adding insult to injury, a bone spur can develop where the bones rub together, and this overgrowth can keep the toe from bending as much as it needs to when you walk, resulting in a stiff big toe (technically called hallux rigidus).
There are many ways to ease the pain of OA, including NSAIDs, heat and ice, exercise and physical therapy, and losing weight. If you don’t find relief from these options, your doctor may recommend more aggressive treatment.
If you develop hallux rigidus, wearing the right shoes is important. Make sure they have plenty of room for your toes, and consider shoes with stiff soles some people find they relieve pain. You may need to avoid high impact activities like running. If these remedies aren’t enough to reduce pain, your doctor may recommend cortisone injections or surgery to shave the bone or realign the big toe.