Your foot is quite complex. It has 26 bones connected together at more than 30 joints. Each point of connection is at risk for developing a problem, because they all move whenever you are active on your feet. Repetitive movements can cause wear and tear, inflammation, and other damage, all of which can result in joint pain. When your feet and ankles hurt, you can’t travel far. How do you figure out what is going on and find out the best way to alleviate your discomfort?
Joint Pain from Heel to Toe
Any joint in your foot or ankle can become painful and there are many possible causes. A few of the most common are:
Bunions – Due to genetics or poor biomechanics, and aggravated by shoe choice and activity, your big toe can move out of position. When the tip moves in toward your second toe, the joint at the base moves outward, causing a painful, bony bump on the inside of your foot. Catch this problem early for the best chance at correcting it or slowing its development.
Tailor’s Bunion – This is the similar to a bunion, but it occurs at the outside of your foot with your smallest toe. Make sure your shoes are roomy enough for the width of your toe joints to avoid irritating the protrusions and avoid redness, inflammation, and pain.
Gout – This condition usually affects your big toe. When you are unable to process the purines in your body or your food properly, uric acid crystals can build up in your toe joint. These crystals cause inflammation and sharp pain when you move or apply pressure on your toe. Rest and elevation can help with symptoms, while avoiding certain foods and drinking enough water can head off attacks in the first place.
Capsulitis – Ligaments form a “capsule” around the joints where your toe bones meet your foot bones. This area can become inflamed when faulty foot movement causes pressure on your joints. This happens most often in the second toe but can also occur in the third and fourth toes. Treat this problem early, before the ligaments become weaker and the toe drifts out of position.
Tarsal Coalition – The bones in the back of your foot include the calcaneus (heel), the talus (between heel and leg), and the cuboid, navicular, and cuneiform bones (between the heel area and the midfoot). If two of these “tarsal” bones join together abnormally, the result is usually stiffness, limited movement, and pain. This is usually an inherited condition, but it doesn’t show up until the child’s bones mature and harden and may not be diagnosed until adulthood. Many conservative treatments can help keep the joints stable while relieving pain.
Arthritis – Two forms of this disease typically affect the feet. Osteoarthritis is wear and tear in the cartilage that causes the ends of bones to rub together. The irritation causes pain and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis attacks the soft lining in your joints, causing inflammation, swelling, and pain. If the inflammation is ongoing, it can damage your cartilage and bones as well. Conservative treatments such as pain medications, steroid injections, orthotic devices, and keeping the joints immobile can all help relieve symptoms.
The Goal is Pain Relief and Improved Function
When you come in to Abbott Foot & Ankle Clinic, we will examine your feet and ankles and use imaging tests, if necessary, to find out exactly what is causing your joint pain. We will recommend conservative treatment in order to relieve your symptoms and allow you to resume your normal activities. Chiropodist Tony Abbott cares about your feet and can fit you with custom orthotics that have had good success in many cases. If you still have pain after trying conservative methods, we can explore the idea of surgery with you, but only as a last option. Dial (705) 444-9929 to reach our office in Collingwood, ON, and put your feet in our expert hands!
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