By Rehan Iqbal
Constant foot pain is one of the most demoralizing conditions a person can experience. One of the most frustrating parts about this type of pain is the fact that it's difficult to diagnose - or even describe how the pain feels and exactly where it's originating.
However, regardless of where it's centered, it can substantially hamper your range of motion. Considering you use nearly every part of your foot to walk or run, simple tasks like walking to the bathroom can be incredibly difficult.
It's important to obtain a proper diagnosis and rectify the situation, as foot pain can literally become an issue that cripples you. With a little background knowledge of foot pain and what areas signify what type of damage, you'll be better prepared on how to communicate the issue with your physician.
Causes of Sharp, Needle-Like Pain
Sharp, tingling, or needle-like pain is one of the most common types of foot discomfort. Unfortunately, it's also one of the most painful and difficult to diagnose. The difficulty lies in the fact that the driving factor behind the pain could point to dozens of different conditions or injuries. We've narrowed the potential causes to a list of some of the most commonly-occurring orthopedic issues.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Most people have heard of carpal tunnel syndrome. Did you know there is tarsal tunnel syndrome, as well? The tarsal tunnel is the slim portion that's fixed to the inner ankle immediately beside the ankle bones. This syndrome is a tightening of the posterior tibial nerve, which manifests symptoms from inside your ankle and down into the foot area.
Several remedies exist for tarsal tunnel syndrome, including injections, icing, medication, and physical therapy. You can also find specialized shoe inserts to treat this condition.
Plantar Fasciitis is one of the most common of all orthopedic conditions triggered by the inflammation of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a thick segment of tissue that stretches across the bottom of the foot. Those who wear shoes without ample support or are overweight tend to have challenges with this condition.
The best course of action for treatment is typically over-the-counter pain medication, rest, and shoe inserts. However, if these don't help, you may need to see your doctor for an examination.
Posterior Tibialis Tendinopathy
The posterior tibialis tendon runs along the underside of the foot and attaches your calf muscle to the bones in the lower portion of your feet. This tendon delivers support for the arches of the foot and allows for ample stability during movement. When damage occurs, the feet may flatten, leaving them unstable and causing balance and mobility issues.
This is a common sports-related injury and is brought on by overusing the tendon or through a severe blow or impact. Tingling pain extends down the ankle and into the foot and is often accompanied by inflammation. An injury to this area leaves you unable to stand on the affected foot or lift the heel.
A Jones Fracture occurs when you break the fifth metatarsal bone on the outside edge of the foot. These can exist as stress fractures or severe breaks because of heavy impact. The ensuing symptoms include inflammation, extreme pain, and sensitivity.
This condition needs immediate attention, or you risk further complications. The best course of action is usually ice application, compression wraps, rest, and foot elevation. Most doctors will also prescribe a cast or a splint, depending on the severity of the break.
Frostbite is damage incurred to the outside skin layers triggered by extended exposure to extreme cold. This condition occurs frequently in those who perform outdoor activities during the winter, most specifically hunting, fishing, and camping.
Remove wet clothing from your feet if you suspect you're suffering from frostbite. Refrain from rubbing the wear, as this further damages the tissue.
If you believe you can warm the area without refreezing, you can attempt to do so in the area where you experienced the frostbite. However, this should be done slowly, in water with a temperature of 100 degrees.
The bones in your feet are connected through ligaments, which are harder band-like pieces of tissue. When you sprain your ankle, these ligaments are overstretched, leading to tearing in the tiny fibers of these pieces of tissue.
Normally, the ligament doesn't experience a full tear, meaning surgery isn't necessary. Sprains normally occur when you roll your feet or twist them too far. Wearing shoes without the proper support is generally the most common cause.
Chronic Idiopathic Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is a term that describes a numbing or tingling feeling in the feet. Idiopathic stands for not known, and chronic describes a condition that continues without relief. However, this most commonly happens to people who are over the age of 60.
Difficulty standing and walking may ensue, and the muscles in the feet and ankles tend to cramp. This condition can be debilitating, and those suffering from it should see a foot specialist.
Physical therapy and specialized footwear normally correct the issue. However, physical therapy is often prescribed in addition to OTC pain relief medication.
Charcot Arthropathy of the Foot
Charcot arthropathy of the foot is a condition that causes numbing and stinging in the feet, which is usually triggered by a number of different preexisting conditions. Weak bones, fractures, and even diabetes are potential culprits for this issue. Doctors normally issue foot inserts or a device that offers walking assistance.
Dealing with tingling and numbing in the feet can be discouraging, and severely affect your quality of life. However, most of the conditions at the root of the problem are either curable or treatable with the right therapy, equipment, or medication.
It's important you seek medical assistance as soon as possible to end up with the best possible outcome. Failure to correct the situation may lead to further complications in the future and a permanent disability involving the foot, legs, or ankles.