FAQS on Foot Pain Treatment in Nashville & Murfreesboro TN

Foot pain can occur from problems with the foot, or a result of lower back and nerve conditions. Many patients with serious back disorders have nerve root compression, which involves problems with the sciatic nerve that runs down the back of each leg. The sciatic nerve branches off into five nerves, which joint at the lower spine. If inflamed or compressed, this nerve causes leg and foot pain (sciatica).

How common is foot pain?

There are few studies examining the prevalence of foot pain in the general population. In once Australian study, 17% of participants reported that they had foot pain, stiffness, or aching in either one or both feet. In a larger study, 10% of participants reported “disabling” foot pain. Females were more likely to report foot pain, and it was more common in people who were obese and over the age of 50 years.

What causes foot pain?

Foot pain can occur due to many reasons, which include:

  • Prolonged standing
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Foot deformity
  • Excessive exercise or walking
  • Aging
  • Injury to the foot or lower leg

What conditions result in foot pain?

There are many painful foot conditions, such as gout, bunion, hammer toe, plantar fasciitis, Morton’s neuroma, and diabetic neuropathy. In addition, several spinal disorders can cause leg and foot pain, including:

  • Spondylolisthesis – This occurs when a vertebra (bone of the spine) slips over the one below it. The spine segment involved pinches a nerve, which causes pain down the leg into the foot.
  • Spinal stenosis – When lumbar spine discs degenerate, the spinal nerves become compressed. As with other compression syndromes, this can cause foot pain, as well as weakness, numbness, and tingling of the foot.
  • Herniated lumbar disc – The outer layer of each intervertebral disc eventually wears with age and injury. When this occurs, the inner portion (nucleus) leaks out, irritating or putting pressure on a nerve root. The nerve root irritation results in lower leg and foot pain.

What symptoms are associated with foot pain?

Foot pain can occur in the tarsals (long bones), the heel, the toes, and/or the sole. If the patient suffers from a spine condition, other symptoms arise, such as:

  • Inability to walk on the tiptoes
  • Foot weakness
  • Foot heaviness
  • Heel walk (inability to bring foot upward)

How is foot pain treated?

The goal of foot pain treatment depends on targeting the cause. Treatment options include:

  • Medications – The pain management doctor will prescribe medications to decrease inflammation, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or a short-term course of corticosteroids. Analgesic pain relievers are reserved for chronic, severe pain.
  • Orthotics – Shoe inserts can help with foot pain, such as arch supports, heel liners, foot cushions, insoles. These devices support, align, and cushion the foot.
  • Steroid injection – For painful joints, bursitis, nerve conditions, and painful trigger points, steroid injections are often used to reduce inflammation.
  • Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) – This involves the delivery of intense energy waves onto the foot. A recent research study found ESWT to have an 80% success rate.
  • Epidural steroid injection (ESI) – With this procedure, the doctor injects a long-acting corticosteroid into the epidural space, which lies outside the spinal cord. In recent clinical studies, ESI was proven to be around 90% effective for back pain.
  • Facet joint injection (FJI) – For various spinal conditions, FJI is used to alleviate nerve symptoms. The doctor inserts tiny needles into the facet joints of the spine, which is done under x-ray guidance. According to research studies, 85% of participants report relief of pain and functional improvement after FJI.

Resources

Dunn JE, Link CL, Felson DT, Crincoli MG, Keysor JJ, & McKinlay JB (2004). Prevalence of foot and ankle conditions in a multiethnic community sample of older adults. American Journal of Epidemiology, 159,491-498

Falco, FJ, Manchikanti, L, Datta, S, et al. (2012). An update of the effectiveness of therapeutic lumbar facet joint interventions. Pain Physician, 15(6), 909-953.

Hill CL, Gill TK, Menz HB & Taylor AW (2008). Prevalence and correlates of foot pain in a population-based study: the North West Adelaide health study. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, 1(2) doi:10.1186/1757-1146-1-2.

Spine Health (2014). Foot pain symptoms. Retrieved from: http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/leg-pain/foot-pain-symptoms