Foot and Ankle Pain Information from a Top Arizona Pain Center
Numerous conditions can cause foot and/or ankle pain. Depending on the underlying cause, pain management treatment will vary from person to person. Below are some of the most common reasons for foot and ankle discomfort.
- Arthritis – Various forms of arthritis cause foot and ankle pain. When left untreated, this pain gets worse, affecting ambulation and mobility. Severe arthritis restricts quality of life, and can impede mobility. There are many forms of arthritis, such as wear and tear arthritis (osteoarthritis), rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome – This occurs when the posterior tibial nerve becomes squeezed or compressed as it passes through the narrow tarsal tunnel. Tarsal tunnel syndrome is caused by bone spurs, ankle injury, and medical conditions, such as diabetes. Symptoms of this condition include pain, tingling, numbness, and burning in the ankle.
- Microtrauma injuries – Caused by running on uneven surfaces that are too hard or from wearing shoes that do not support the foot or fit properly.
- Morton’s neuroma – Thickening of tissue around a nerve located between the toes, which can lead to pain and numbness. This condition is aggravated by poor-fitting shoes.
- Overstressing of the foot – Chronic stress from running or jumping can lead to tendonitis, stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, and chronic arthritis.
- Plantar fasciitis – This leads to inflammation of the plantar fascia, which causes arch pain of the foot. An inflammatory response occurs after prolonged strain on the feet from low or high arches.
- Peripheral neuropathy – Certain nerve disorders will cause a burning sensation, pain, and numbness of the feet.
- Plantar warts – This is caused by viruses and leads to pain with weight-bearing activities.
- Herniated lumbar disc – This occurs when an intervertebral disc’s inner core leaks or pushes out through its outer core. This leads to pressure on a nerve root, which radiates pain down the sciatic nerve into the leg and foot.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis – This condition refers to the spinal nerve roots being choked or compressed, which can cause referred foot symptoms, such as numbness, weakness, and tingling of the foot.
- Spondylolisthesis – With this lower back disorder, one vertebra slips over the next vertebra, which compromises the spine segment and leads to a pinched nerve. When a nerve is compressed, pain will radiate down the leg into the foot.
- Bone spurs – Heel bone spurs are common, and they contribute to serious foot pain.
- Complex regional pain syndrome – This causes serious, intense foot pain, as well as skin color changes, sweating, and sensitivity to light touch.
- Gout – This leads to serious pain due to accumulation of uric acid. While gout usually affects the big toe, this condition can occur in any foot structure.
- Metatarsalgia – The ball of the foot becomes inflamed and painful, and certain activities irritation the condition, such as walking and running.
- Hammertoe and mallet toe – These two foot deformities occur in women who wear shoes with a narrow toe box or high heels. This causes an abnormal bend in the middle toe joint.
Foot and Ankle Pain Treatment
- Corticosteroid injections – The doctor will inject painful joints with a steroidal agent. This decreases inflammation, pain, and swelling.
- Medications – The doctor will prescribe anti-inflammatory medicines, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and ketoprofen. For severe pain, analgesics are used.
- Orthotics and shoe inserts – For calluses, corns, bunions, and hammer toe, you need to choose shoes with a wide toe box. Orthotic shoe inserts relieve heel pain and special padding reduces the discomfort associated with certain foot deformities. Compression stockings allow for reduction of feet and lower leg swelling.
- Facet joint injections (FJIs) – When done in a series of three, FJIs involve injecting the tiny facet joints along the back region of the spinal column. One clinical study found that FJI had an 85% efficacy rate. These injections work well for foot/ankle pain related to arthritis and nerve inflammation.
- Epidural steroid injection (ESI) – The doctor can inject a long-acting corticosteroid into the epidural space of the spine, which is located between the spinal cord and the epidural layer. Found to have an 80-90% success rate, ESI can be used for foot pain associated with low back nerve root compression.
- Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) – With an 80% efficacy rate, ESWT involves the delivery of intense quick energy waves to the foot and ankle. Used for Achilles tendionpathy and plantar fasciitis, this therapy is proven to work well.