“When you’re at the end of your rope, all you have to do is make one foot move out in front of the other. Just take the next step. That’s all there is to it” ~ Samuel Fuller
There are few things we humans do that are more fundamental than walking. Being bipedal creatures means that walking upright is a primal function for us. And walking as a basic form of locomotion is so normal, natural, and instinctive that we rarely give it any thought.
Unless it hurts.
The Pain of Dysfunctional Forward Motion
Understanding chronic foot pain requires knowing the actual foot pain location and cause. And this is not always so simple and straightforward as one might believe.
One of the fascinating, yet frustrating realities about many types of chronic muscle and joint pain is that “where it hurts” isn’t always the actual source of the pain. Consequently, not only is it common to simply treat the symptom – the current pain issue – but we can overlook the real problem.
It is not at all uncommon, for example, to have soft tissue injuries or joint problems in or near your feet that lead to chronic pain in your ankles, your knees, and even up to your hips, and lower back.
The problem lies with issues such as gradual misalignments of the bones, joints, or soft tissue structures of the foot. These problems can cause us to make slight alterations to our gait, or the way we walk. These alterations, often subtle and unnoticed, can eventually cause subsequent changes in our lower extremities and how our bodies bear our weight as we walk.
As one podiatrist has described it,
“Everything is connected, which is why your feet can cause so many problems all over your body. If you have a foot deformity, you change the way you walk to avoid pain subconsciously. Have you ever noticed that if one of your toes hurts, you avoid hurting it more while you take each step by limping or walking differently on that foot? Usually this is temporary, but for someone with a foot deformity, this adjustment in gait can be permanent.”
This dynamic which can be referred to as compensating, or compensatory, pain.
A minor soft tissue injury in the foot or ankle, for example, can result in an abnormal shifting of our weight as we walk, eventually causing foot, ankle, or knee pain that is removed from the actual point of injury.
Conditions can develop over time, as well, such as from Plantar Fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis. The resulting pain can cause us to walk with an altered or dysfunctional gait pattern. And this can lead to pain in other areas including our knee joints, for example.
A not uncommon scenario is an injury to the Achilles tendon or Achilles’ tendonitis that leads to experiencing knee pain in the opposite leg from the one with the Achilles tendon pain. This often occurs as the one leg compensates by taking more of your body weight off the other leg to avoid the original source of pain.
Taking a More Holistic Approach to Thinking About Chronic Foot Pain
Another challenge when it comes to dealing with foot pain and the several ways it can present itself and manifest throughout the structures of the lower body is the sheer variety of original causes.
For example, recognizing that foot pain is not always related to a pathological condition. In fact, your foot pain could be caused by:
- Wearing poorly fitting shoes
- Standing for extended periods of time
- Walking or running for a long time
- Injury to the foot by a hard object
- Foot sprains, strains, and fractures
- Or even by a broken foot, toe, or ankle
Foot pain can be debilitating to an active lifestyle and chronic foot pain can have many sources, from fractures and sprains to nerve damage and other conditions. The three most common causes of most foot pain, according to Hopkins Medicine, are:
- Pain in the ball of the foot. Pain in the ball of the foot, located on the bottom of the foot behind the toes, may be caused by nerve or joint damage in that area.
- Plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is characterized by severe pain in the heel of the foot, especially when standing up after resting. The condition is due to an overuse injury of the sole surface (plantar) of the foot.
- Achilles’ tendon injury. The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the human body. It connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. However, this tendon is also the most common site of rupture or tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendon due to overuse.
The good news is that, in almost every case, not only can the actual cause and source of your chronic foot and related pain be determined, but the pain can be effectively diminished and, often, completely relieved.
You Can Find Relief from Chronic Foot Pain with Pain and Performance Solutions
Your initial session at Pain and Performance Solution will consist of an assessment that allows us to learn all we can about your pain issues, in addition to any other history of discomfort. We begin with this because we understand that to effectively treat your chronic pain issues, we must first understand where and how your pain started.
Once the verbal assessment and history are completed, we will conduct a full examination, which, taken together, will allow us to determine the best form of treatment to help take you to a place of full recovery.
As we described here, our bodies will often try to compensate for the pain we are experiencing by making subtle adjustments in movement to minimize or avoid the pain. However, as our bodies work to avoid that pain to compensate for our discomfort, this often results in pain in different areas of our bodies.
Finding chronic pain relief with therapies like Anatomy in Motion, or AiM, along with other treatments such as Active Release Techniques® can only begin after we understand where your pain started. And that can mean another injury you might have sustained.
Throughout our treatment approach, your trust in us and your openness are critical keys to our mutual success.
Ultimately, the only way to achieve total pain relief and recovery is by getting your body healthy and working properly. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and answer any questions that you may have.