Common Foot Complaints Treated
As podiatrists we treat a variety of problems from the hip all the way to the toes, including illiotibial band friction, patellofemoral pain, “shin splints” and many more. Today I will go through a few of my most commonly seen complaints.
Plantar fasciitis/heel pain this is probably the most common complaint I see. It usually presents as medial heel pain that eases with activity and is worst after long periods of rest.
Contributing factors can be the structure of the foot, footwear, activities, sudden change in hobbies or occupational demands (long hours on hard floors for example).
Treatment usually consists of a combination of insole therapy and rehabilitative exercises and stretching. Therapies such as massage, taping or ultrasound can also be very useful.
Bear in mind not all heel pain is plantar fasciitis, some heel pain is self-diagnosed as plantar fasciitis but is actually caused by Achilles tendon, fat pad irritation or structural issues like bony prominences or scar tissue, so it is always worth being properly assessed by a professional.
Metatarsalgia – forefoot pain. This is an umbrella term that encompasses anything that causes forefoot pain. There are many causes of forefoot pain that a podiatrist will treat routinely, these include: corns, callus, bone bruising, fat pad displacement or atrophy, claw or hammer toe deformities, plantar plate irritation, sesamoiditis and the list goes on! Due to numerous causes and the often complex onset of forefoot pain, it is definitely worth being assessed by a podiatrist.
Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (ankle and arch pain). The posterior tibial tendon is where the muscle tibialis posterior attaches into the bones of the foot. This is a very important muscle and tendon as it controls pronation (the foot rolling inwards) and resupinates (rolls the foot outwards) the foot ready for propulsion. It also attaches into most of the bones that make up the arch structure of the foot. Therefore, if it starts to weaken or stop working as it should you may initially notice pain around the inside of the ankle and into the arch. It can be on both feet or just one. You may notice changes to the structure of the foot, it getting flatter or rolling inwards more. If left un-treated this can lead to surgical intervention.
Treatments will initially involve insole therapy, load management and specific strengthening exercises. More serious end stage dysfunction may only be treated with surgical intervention.