Amazingly, there are 26 bones in the foot – each and every one capable of causing foot pain!
In between these bones are almost as many joints, plus ligaments and muscles, likewise each a potential source of pain.
The foot is richly endowed with nerves that send information to the brain, telling it exactly where the body is poised in space so as to co-ordinate the next movement – for example, to kick a ball or take a step. This sense is called “proprioception” , so essential that the body dedicates a specific tract in the spinal cord to carrying this information to the brain and back again. Little wonder that the foot can cause so much discomfort.
Foot pain often starts following an inadequately managed ankle sprain. When you turn your ankle, not only ligaments are sprained. Frequently, muscles on either on the side of the leg or even under the foot may be involved as well. Small bones in the midfoot may become subluxated. Often the talus, cuboid, or calcaneus (heel bones) may become fixated.
Such results can be prevented with a thorough examination before any ankle sprain treatment. If this does not take place, and foot pain develops after a period of time, chiropractic treatment can eliminate or help reduce the problem.
Metarsarsalgia, or ball of the foot pain, is a very common and sometimes extremely distressing problem. It can be acute, often recurs, and in many people becomes a chronic source of pain. A limp often develops, with a potential negative trickle-down effects on the knees, hips and/or spine.
Metatarsalagia is usually (but not always) associated with a dropped transverse arch, in which case the toes often jut upwards. This causes thick calluses to form under the metatarsal heads. The solution is NOT to scrape the callus away. Improper fitting and too-tight shoes may be the cause, especially women’s dress shoes with a high heel, which redistribute total weight and force too much onto the forefoot. Pointed shoes squeeze the ball-of-foot into a restricted space, forcing the metatarsal heads against each other and irritating the nerves that run between them. This may cause Morton’s neuroma, a benign but painful swelling of the nerve, which leads to extreme discomfort in the forefoot and tingling and pain in some of the toes.
Plantarfascitis is a term that refers to pain on the sole of the foot. It may be worse when barefoot, especially first thing in the morning. Pain usually occurs on the inside of the foot, near the spot where your heel and arch meet, but in fact can occur anywhere along the sole of the foot. The pain may refer towards the forefoot.
This can be caused by:
- Improper warm-up/increase in training mileage by athletes, hikers, or serious walkers
- Fixations in one or more foot joints (especially the calcaneus and cuboid)
- Tight Achilles tendon
- High-arched foot
- Flat feet
- Imbalance in the pelvis
- Unequal leg length
- Sacro-iliac fixation.
All can be helped or solved by:
Chiropractic treatment of the foot has been shown to be very effective in restoring unimpeded motion and function of the foot in many conditions. It is a first step in treatment that may also benefit from mobilization, specific exercises, proper footwear, and/or custom orthotics.