Foot Complaints

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Expert physiotherapists at Mount Isa Physio do not just focus on relieving the patients of all painful conditions, but also aim at educating them by sharing valuable insights into their problems. It is not just about a one-time cure.  

Read about some of the most common foot concerns, possible symptoms, and treatments available.  

Heel Pain  

Among the different types of foot complaints and concerns, pain in the heel is quite common. Records show that over 400,000 people in the continent of Australia suffer from heel pain.  

Pain at the back of the heel is called Achilles Tendonitis or Bursitis. Even young children suffer from pediatric heel pain or Server’s disease.  

What Causes Heel Pain?  

The plantar fascia is the tissue that connects the heel bone to the ball of the foot, along its base. Plantar Fasciitis is a medical condition due to the inflammation of this tissue. People with this condition often experience painful spot near the heel. Plantar Fascia, in its best form, is strong and flexible. But this may not be the case always as excessive body weight and incorrect function of the foot can stretch the Plantar Fascia beyond its limit. The undue tension can cause inflammation of the tissue. The constant tension leads to micro-tear of the tissue, and inflammation in the area where the plantar fascia connects to the heel bone. This can result in stabbing/piercing pain in the heel during the first few steps in the morning, or while standing up after sitting. 

Overstretching of the tissue is quite common in this case. The Plantar Fascia overstretches when a person suffers from over-pronation, which is the lowering of the arch as the foot lands. Standing/walking/running on hard surfaces can also lead to this condition. Over-stretching also occurs when a person puts on weight, due to pregnancy or obesity. The tissue is also stretched when the muscles and tendons in the feet are tight, or if the person is over 45 years of age.   

What are the Symptoms & How is it Treated? 

Sharp pain in the heel during the first few steps of the day is one of the most common symptoms of this condition. Pain during a continued activity of the feet after resting them for a while is another. In many cases, the pain doesn’t necessarily last for long, as it subdues to a dull ache within a short period of time.   

Orthotic insoles rightly prescribed by physiotherapists can be a good solution to this problem. It can help in correcting the pronation. Some special exercises and rest along with reduced activity also help. 

Heel Spurs 

When the fascia is continuously pulled along the heel bone, it develops into a bony growth on the heel bone. This condition is called Heel spur or Calcaneal spur. While at rest, even when the person is asleep, the Plantar Fascia tightens and becomes shorter. But as soon as the weight of the body is back on the foot, the Fascia must stretch itself back into shape and thereby increase in length. The tissue tears leading to stinging pain in the morning.  

Heel spurs can be caused by over-pronation. Walking/Standing/Running on hard and uneven surfaces can also lead to this condition. Tight calf muscles and overweight are among the other reasons for this condition to pop up.  

What Are the Symptoms? 

Symptoms of this condition include sharp and twinging pain with the first few steps in the morning or with resumed activity after rest, which subsides to a dull ache. Orthotic soles to correct the pronation, special exercises and reduced activity coupled with adequate rest can help in the treatment.  

Plantar Fasciitis  

Dubbed as the ‘Policeman’s Heel’, Plantar Fasciitis is a painful inflammatory condition that causes chronic heel pain. It some of the cases, it also results in severe arch pain. Poor biomechanics of the feet play a major role here. The major cause of the condition is the abnormal pronation of the foot. Age, weight-gain, excessive walking/standing/running on hard surfaces, usage of worn-out shoes, and inactivity of the feet can bring this condition to life.  

What Are the Symptoms & How is it Treated? 

Pain is experienced on the bottom or underside of the heel. People with this condition have sharp and twinging pain at the bottom and front portions of the heel bone and abates into a dull ache as the day progresses.     

Treatment for this condition includes orthotic insoles for corrective pronation, exercise, application of ice and rest.  

Arch Pain  

Pain in the arch of the foot is one of the most common orthopedic complaints noted at Mount Isa Physio. Plantar Fasciitis, the excessive stretching, and inflammation of the tissues is the reason. As the ligaments in the feet contract and tighten up during sleep, there is repeated efforts by the body to stretch it back to shape during the day.  For a person who is suffering from arch pain, inflammation of the tissues occurs in the area of midfoot. Repeated strain on this portion can cause the ligament to tear. Irritation, pain, and swelling are among the symptoms.  

Structural imbalance or injury to the foot can be a direct cause. Long walks, or standing for a prolonged period of time can lead to this condition too. When the foot is rolled inwards, it causes over-pronation. Adding to that, over-weight due to pregnancy or obesity, and tight Achilles tendons or calf muscles are among the other reasons for arch pain.   

Treatment 

Resting of the feet is much needed to treat this condition. Heel and foot-muscle stretches are among the multitude of exercises advised to alleviate the pain on a periodic and gradual basis. To avoid such conditions, shoes with good arch support and soles should be used.  

Ankle Pain  

Pain or discomfort in the ankles is referred to as ankle pain. Over 75% of the injuries are caused by an ankle sprain, a condition where the ligaments tear or get overstretched. Abnormal foot mechanics and excessive pronation are the major causes of such injuries.  

Ankle pain is quite common people of all age groups and they are divided into types:  

  1. Acute Ankle Pain 
  2. Chronic Ankle Pain. 
  3. Acute Ankle Pain 

Trauma and injury are the major reasons for this condition. Ankle sprains make for most of the common injuries that usually occur in sports and athletics. It should also be noted that it can be extremely painful. With proper rest, ankle sprains can be healed in a few weeks’ time.  

  1. Chronic Ankle Pain 

Unlike ankle sprain, chronic ankle pain can lead to lengthy periods of suffering due to pain. It is a long-term complaint, where the pain can be either inside or outside. The former complaint is termed as medial ankle pain and the latter as lateral ankle pain. Stressed tendons in the ankle cause Medial ankle pain, while compression of the soft tissue (tendons and ligaments) in the outer region of the ankle causes lateral ankle pain.   

Achilles Tendonitis  

The Achilles Tendons connect the calf muscles to the heel bone behind the ankle joint. It is considered as the longest tendon in the body. Achilles Tendonitis is a painful complaint when the tendon becomes swollen or irritated due to overuse. It is caused by a constant strain on the Achilles tendons that can even lead to its rupture.  

Aging can degenerate the tendons, and weaken the fibers. Over-pronation is one of the most common causes and this occurs when the calf muscles are under tremendous pressure. The lower leg is forced to rotate internally, as the feet excessively roll inward.  Tightness in the calf muscles is experienced above the back of the heel. Achilles tendon, here, would have thickened and is tender to touch. Pain is experienced while walking and exerting pressure on the toes. 

If Achilles tendonitis goes untreated, it can become a chronic condition that can even make walking an agonizing affair.   

What Are the Symptoms and How is it Treated? 

In some people, it is possible that there will be no signs or symptoms of an Achilles tendon rupture. But soon, the feeling of having strongly prodded in the calf kicks in, and people witness severe pain and swelling near the heel. This makes bending the foot downward a tough task.  

Stretching exercises and orthotics to correct the over-pronation can help. The process of complete healing can take 2-6 weeks of time, and with the right physiotherapy, people can resume normal activities within 3-6 months.  

Over-Pronation  

Pronation can be termed as a natural movement of the foot as it lands on the ground while walking, standing, or running. You won’t be much concerned about how your foot hits the ground, but it has the power to cause some serious damage. The arches of the foot roll inward or downward, and this condition is also referred to as flat feet.  

One of the most common problems among people, it is noted that over-pronation affects millions of Australians. 70% of the Australian population are affected by this condition. 

Fallen arches contribute to a range of complaints.  

  • Sore, aching feet 
  • Ball of foot pain  
  • Heel pain 
  • Achilles tendonitis 
  • Callous & corns 
  • Bunions 
  • Shin pain 
  • Tired, aching legs 
  • Knee pain 
  • Lower back pain 

To have a better understanding of this condition, let’s take a look at the 3 most common foot complaints.  

  1. Flat Feet        – Pes Planus (affects 5% of the population) 
  1. High Arched Foot      – Pes Cavus (affects 5% of the population) 
  1. Pronating Foot          – Fallen arches (affects 70% of the population) 

Flat Feet – Pes Planus  

The underside of the foot lies completely flat on the ground, and for this reason, there are no arches in flat feet.  A true condition of flat feet is a rarity and is observed in only 5% of the total Australian population. This condition is quite normal in children as there is a higher rate of growth, and the arch is still in its developing stage. If a proper arch is not observed in children aged 5-6, then they may be in need of orthotics.  

High Arched Foot – Pes Cavus     

Pes Cavus is the right opposite of Pes Planus. It’s a type of condition where the sole of the foot is distinctly hollow in shape while carrying weight. It is less common compared to flat feet, and the deformities observed include clawing of the toes, deformity in the posterior hind foot, contracture of the plantar fascia, and deformity of the greater toe.  

Pronating Foot – Fallen Arches  

Most people have a low arch in their foot.  Take the case of a normal foot, and it has a low and clear arch under it, especially in a sitting position. The bearing of weight is one factor that determines the arch behavior, and it can be seen that the arch lowers as we get up from the sitting position. This is where fallen arches/over-pronation comes to play. The arch of the feet collapses on walking, but then again, over-pronation is quite different from fallen arches.  

Pronation is necessary for the gait. However, when it’s done for too long or deep (over-pronating), there are only bleak chances of recovery from the condition. This can be injurious in the long run, as over-pronation can tamper with the natural walking patterns of a person. It will gradually start affecting different parts of the body too. 

Over-pronation can be caused by obesity, pregnancy, aging and repetitive pounding of the foot on hard surfaces. Poor feet alignment is also a reason.   

Treatment  

Over-pronation is mostly seen in athletes, runners, and sportspersons in common. The most effective treatment for this condition is without any doubt, the usage of orthotic shoes after consulting an expert physiotherapist. Orthotic shoes coupled with stretching exercises can bring about a big difference. It is also an effective treatment for heel pain.  

The orthotics provided at Mount Isa Physio has had a strong track record of providing comfort and relief from such conditions. The Physio will correct over-pronation, and efforts will be on to provide a natural and long-lasting solution for the problem.  

Ball of Foot Pain (Metatarsalgia) 

Metatarsalgia is a condition when the ball of the foot becomes painful and inflamed. The dropping of the bones in the forefoot and weakening of the surrounding ligaments usually cause the ball of foot pain. The forefoot region is subject to high pressure because of bearing 70-80% of the weight of the body.   

Activities like running and jumping can cause it to happen. The symptoms of Metatarsalgia, however, are often observed in women who wear high heels. It is not a serious condition, but it is good enough to sideline a person from daily chores. This condition is characterized by a sharp, aching pain in the ball of the foot. It affects the part of the foot behind the toes. The condition worsens when a person stands up, runs of flexes the feet, or even while walking.   

Home remedies such as ice and rest can help, but in the long run, orthotics with effective shock-absorbing insoles, and arch supports can reduce the recurrence probabilities of the problem.    

Morton’s Neuroma  

It is a painful condition that usually affects the ball of the foot. It most commonly affects the region of the foot between the third and fourth toes. The nerve between the 3rd and 4th metatarsal bones is squeezed. Imagine yourself standing on a lump of strong and circular mass in your shoes, and that’s the experience for you.  

A neuroma is a tumor of the nerve (benign and not malignant) that’s a thick or swollen tissue around the digital nerve that leads to the toes. This can cause a sharp and burning pain in the ball of the foot. There also chances of a tingling feeling, burn or numbness. High heeled shoes, like in Metatarsalgia, have been linked to the development of this condition in most of the cases.   

Shin Splints  

Shin splints refer to pain, mild or acute, along the inner edge of the shinbone (tibia). Known as the medial tibial stress syndrome, it is an inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around the tibia. The shin tightens and becomes tender. Over-pronation is a major contributing factor as it can cause shin splints that lead to internal tibial rotation.  

This condition usually follows physical activity. Any vigorous sports activity can bring on shin splints. Runners are more vulnerable to shin splints, and it can occur with the sudden commencement of these activities, rather than gradual progress. Resting, ice and stretching can be of help.  

Other factors that contribute towards the development of this condition include having flat feet, or improper footwear while exercising. An accurate diagnosis is needed to rule out stress fractures, tendinitis, and chronic exertion compartment syndrome.   

Tired and aching legs  

Tired and aching legs commonly seen in aged people, and elderly women. It is usually felt in the back of the legs, especially in the calf and knee regions in a dull ache. Tired and aching legs lead to feeble blood circulation in the leg arteries. 

Straining or overstretching of the calf muscles, standing for a long time, and wearing high heels are some of the reasons for this commonly noted condition. Inadequate or lack of stretching exercises can also cause this condition. Rest and stretching exercises can be a breather.  

Knee Pain a.k.a. Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral Syndrome) 

Knee pain is a condition that need not have diseases associated with it and is quite common among people of all age groups barring children. Heavy/lack of physical activities, sprains or strains, and sitting for a prolonged period of time can cause pain in the knee.  

Different Types of Knee Pain  

  1. Patellofemoral Syndrome or Chondromalacia Patellae (commonest). 
  1. Sinding-Larson-Johansson Disorder 
  1. Patella Tendinitis 
  1. Bursitis 
  1. Osgood-Schlatter (commonest) 

What Are the Symptoms of Patellofemoral Syndrome?  

From adolescents to adults, Patellofemoral syndrome affects a large proportion of the population in Australia. It’s mostly a sharp pain or a grinding sensation in the knee while getting up from a position of rest or climbing the stairs. It is the pain between the knee cap (patella) and thigh bone (femur). Dubbed as Anterior knee pain, it can cause pain and tenderness in the anterior region of the knee. Pain in the posterior part of the knee is not a rarity either.     

It is called the ‘jumper’s knee’ or ‘runner’s knee’ because it is noted among a large scale of people who get into sports activities.  

What Causes Knee Pain?  

The knee is the largest joint and one of the most complex parts of the human body. When it comes to Patellofemoral syndrome, vigorous physical activities like jogging, squatting, and climbing stairs can become major causes. The condition is also related to a sudden change in the physical activity levels. Usage of improper sports equipment and lack of even and shock-absorbing footwear can cause the knee to pain.  

Anything ranging from trauma, injury and accidents to simple wear and tear of the bones can cause knee pain. Aging can naturally soften and wear out the cartilage behind the knee cap that in turn causes the small and soft tissues to break down and tear. Knee cartilage erosion is caused by constant grinding that results in excruciating pain, and swelling of the knee.  

Cartilage erosion is not just related to aging. Being involved in different sports like soccer, rugby, cycling, or even running can take a toll on the knees. Professions like construction and caretaking can have a similar effect on the knee.  

Patella tracking disorder, also known as Muscle imbalance is another reason for knee pain to develop. The inner quadriceps become weaker than the outer quadriceps and the knee cap is pulled aside by the stronger outer muscles. Physiotherapists at Mount Isa Physio can help with exercises that can strengthen the weak muscles to treat this condition.  

Biomechanics of the leg like the movement of the feet and ankles can play a big role in causing Patellofemoral syndrome.  

Knees are complex structures and they are not designed to rotate and swirl from a point of contact. When the lower leg is forced to rotate, the knees are subjected to unnatural stress. 

People are unaware of the situations that give birth to knee corrosion or pain. It is necessary to not ignore the pain, and get it treated as soon as possible to avoid worsening of the condition of the knees in the future.  Physiotherapists at Mount Isa Physio are committed to providing the best and natural solutions for the problem that would be beneficial in the long run, rather than temporary relief.  

Lower Back Pain (Lumbo-sacral Pain) 

Millions of Australians suffer from lower back pain. At times, it is accompanied by a tired and lazy feeling, especially after standing up for a while. Poor body posture is to be blamed. Not just in Australia, people all around the world experience the condition of lower back pain because of weak and lazy postural habits. When a person is watching television, working on a laptop or PC, cozily sitting on a chair, sleeping, or using pillows and more – the range of reasons for lower back pain to crop up is huge, even if they are different. 

One of the most common reasons includes the lack of awareness among people about their postural deformities.  

Biomechanics of the foot also plays a big role here. Over-pronation is a condition that throws the whole human body off balance. In this condition, the lower back pain is caused by the constant tension on the muscles of the lower back due to the increased spinal curvature.   

If the lower back pain starts to ache after standing for a long, then chances are it could be caused by the problems of the foot.  

Be Aware, Identify and Take Action 

All the aforesaid information was provided so that people experiencing the pain can come to right decisions on how to deal with it. A small amount of pain in the foot can be treated from home, and it doesn’t require medical attention. But in a busy world of new inventions and hectic life schedules, people are prone to neglect and avoid conditions that cause pain in their bodies. This, in turn, can lead to serious and cumulative medical problems that are hard to treat in the future. It renders the body less effective and debilitates the thinking capacity of the mind.  

At Mount Isa Physio, our experts are committed to ensuring that people identify and take action without delay. That they don’t experience such long-term conditions is one of the biggest goals for us. For this reason, it is important to diagnose and treat the problem as soon as possible. Our expert physiotherapists will leave no stone unturned to cure the conditions with care.  

Contact us to book an appointment. 

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