Every time you take a step, your feet experience more force than simply the mass of your body. Taking 10,000 steps or more per day, climbing the stairs and standing up at work all take a toll on your feet. The foot has dozens of small bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles. A problem with just one of these parts of your foot could lead to considerable pain. If you experience foot pain, follow these eight action steps.
1. Stop Doing What Hurts
If a particular activity, such as jumping, is causing your foot pain, stop doing it. Your foot pain could be an overuse injury. Wait until your foot feels better and then slowly ease back into the activity. If your foot constantly hurts or no particular activity causes your pain, consider visiting a podiatrist.
2. Apply Ice to Your Foot
Apply ice to your foot in the location where it hurts. Ice is a basic home care measure for any type of pain. Do not put ice cubes or packs directly on your skin. Wrap the ice in a wash cloth or towel. Keep the ice on your foot for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Repeat the icing every hour or two.
3. Elevate Your Foot
Elevating your foot helps to reduce swelling. Use a pillow or two and prop your foot up to be level or close to level with your heart. You can apply the ice while your foot is elevated. Be sure to change position in order to avoid a pins and needles or tingling sensation that could result from a lack of circulation to your foot.
4. Take an Anti-inflammatory Medication
There are many over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications that could help you to manage your foot pain. Ibuprofen is a commonly used medicine for managing pain. It should be taken with food in order to avoid an upset stomach. Naproxen sodium or acetaminophen could also be used. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you take any other medications that contain pain relievers.
5. Buy Shoes That Fit Properly
If you have a tendency to wear shoes until they have holes in them, put an end to that practice. Your feet need the padding that is built into the shoes. If your job requires that you wear high-heeled shoes or another type of footwear that compresses your toes or puts pressure on a particular part of your foot, work with a shoe store to find some insoles or inserts to help manage the pressure. Buy shoes that fit your feet properly. Some people’s feet grow as they get older. The foot’s arch could spread or collapse making the foot longer or wider. Hammertoe, bunions or arthritis could cause changes in the shape of the forefoot, requiring a boxier toe.
6. Avoid Overuse Injuries
Many people are weekend warriors, running 20 miles in a weekend or playing eight hours of tennis. This leads to overuse injuries. Try to spread out your physical activity. Alternate different types of activities. For example, if you run five miles each weekend day, go swimming on weekdays. If you play basketball one day, bicycle the next day.
7. Seek Immediate Treatment for an Acute Injury
If you experience sudden foot pain, seek treatment right away. Sudden foot pain should be evaluated with imaging studies and a physical exam. If you hear any popping or snapping sounds or can no longer stand or bear weight on the foot, a visit to the emergency room or urgent care center is crucial to your health.
8. Schedule an Office Visit for Gradual or Persistent Pain
Foot pain sometimes develops gradually. If you have noticed a slow onset of aches or discomfort that lasts for more than a couple of weeks, schedule an office visit. A stress fracture, swollen tendon or inflamed ligament could cause a gradual onset of foot pain that persists. If self-care measures such as resting your foot, applying ice, elevating the foot and using a compression wrap do not help after a few days, make an appointment for an office visit. A doctor might order X-rays to check for broken bones or an MRI to check for soft tissue injuries.