It can sometimes be very difficult for people living with foot pain to go about their daily routine as they usually would. Even simple activities, such as walking, can become very painful. This article includes several tips that can help to increase the quality of life of patients who are affected by acute or chronic foot pain.
It is essential for individuals with foot pain to remain physically active and keep their body healthy. Being overweight is a common risk factor for foot pain because it adds more stress to the feet. For such patients, exercise along with a healthy diet is an important factor for weight loss to occur.
However, many patients struggle to find activities that they can do without causing their pain to worsen. Non-weight-bearing exercise such as swimming may be a good option for people with very severe foot pain. Light walking is also widely recommended to help improve foot pain. If necessary, ice and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help to reduce inflammation when the exercise is first introduced.
Stretches for the feet can help to increase the flexibility and range of motion of the feet. These stretches should be repeated several times each day for the best results.
A cane or crutch may be recommended for some patients to reduce the weight placed on the foot. This is preferable if activities such as walking cause pain. There are various types of canes and crutches available, with the best choice for each individual depending on the specific case.
At home care
There are several things that patients can do at home to help relieve foot pain.
Heat and cold packs are often very effective. An ice pack can numb the area and reduce swelling, which is most useful immediately after a physical injury to the feet. A heat pack is most useful to relieve pain that is not associated with acute inflammation, such as for patients with Raynaud’s phenomenon.
Massaging the feet can help to improve the circulation and hasten the recovery after an injury. A professional physiotherapist can do this, although a simple massage at home may be also useful.
Following a healthy diet is also important, particularly for patients who are overweight. Following general nutritional principles, such as increasing the intake of fresh fruit and vegetables and reducing the consumption of processed food is a good start.
Poorly fitted shoes are a common cause of foot pain, and all individuals who suffer from foot pain should ensure that the shoes that they wear help to support their feet in a positive way.
Appropriate footwear should have a cushioned heel with supportive, soft soles. Some patients may require orthotics from a podiatrist for additional support.
Patients with foot pain should be encouraged to keep track of the pain and any changes that occur.
It can be helpful for them to keep a pain diary to record the severity of symptoms, any activities that may have triggered the pain, and the efficacy of pain-relieving medications. This makes management decisions much easier for practitioners and helps to ensure that the best plan is made to manage the pain in future.
Additionally, patients should be encouraged to inspect their feet regularly, looking for signs of change in skin color or temperature, abnormal toenails, cuts in the skin, or swelling of the feet.
Reviewed by Liji Thomas, MD