Updated: May 10
Foot pain is something we see and treat in the clinic every day. It can be very debilitating, after all you do need your feet to get around! It is one of those areas of the body that we can easily take for granted until there is something going on with them. I personally experienced this when I developed plantar fasciitis a few years ago. I never thought much about my feet or foot health until I couldn’t get out of bed without foot pain. Luckily for me I do what I do, and I know what I know, and my feet don’t give me problems anymore. But not everyone is a trained Physical Therapist! We see a lot of patients in the clinic who’ve been through it all on the road to pain-free feet. Some have had injections; others have had surgery. Some have tried different medications or topical creams. In this blog, I’ll discuss our simple solutions for foot pain, which work most of the time. There is a time and place for injections and surgery, but they are rarely ever the best first option!
Custom Foot Orthotics
These are not for everyone. But for those who could use the extra support, they can make a huge difference for foot pain sufferers. An article by Whittaker, et al. in 2019 found that custom foot orthotics were superior to a cortisone shot at 12 weeks for pain relief of heel/foot pain. I personally benefited from getting custom foot orthotics when my plantar fascia pain wasn’t going away with just exercises and stretches. Every morning getting out of bed, my feet killed and it made it hard to walk. Since I can put them in my dress shoes and in my sneakers, they’ve been a huge help each day, no matter what shoes I want to wear. Custom foot orthotics take some time to get used to at first, since they support all 3 arches of the foot. We use Foot Levelers, a company that allows us the ability to 3D scan every patient with a laser scanner in the clinic and order the orthotics immediately through their system, allowing a fast turnaround time, often around or just under one week for delivery! Foot Levelers also offers a variety of options for their custom orthotics, including those specifically for sports cleats, those for runners, those for office workers, those for construction workers, custom flip-flops, and more. And with a full 1-year, 100% money-back guarantee, we know that we're offering our patients the best option out there, without the risk to go with it!
In the PT world, this is our training's bread and butter! Much of our schooling is in specific exercises that can help specific conditions. When it comes to foot pain, it may benefit you to specifically work on the strength and mobility of the feet and ankles, and often even up into the hips and core. Balance and proprioceptive exercises may also be included in a treatment program, as they also help improve your function and strength of the intrinsic (inner, smaller) muscles of your feet. PT’s have specialized training and knowledge in exercises that can help with foot and ankle pain, post-injury, and post-surgery.
Manual Therapy techniques
Physical Therapists are also trained in manual therapy techniques that can help loosen stiff joints to help improve mobility and range of motion. Many of our patients benefit from specific foot and ankle mobilizations to help speed up the rehab process. At times, soft tissue mobilization or massage may help relieve plantar fasciitis pain. Manual therapy techniques may also include other specialized soft-tissue mobilization, such as Graston technique or joint flossing techniques.
Sometimes, patients are so used to walking irregularly due to a chronic foot issue that they have to basically re-learn how to walk properly again. This is especially true for those who have been immobilized in a boot or walking shoe for a period of time. Also, those who have relied on a crutch or cane for a period of time tend to have more re-learning to do. When you learn how to walk with proper gait, this can alleviate foot and ankle pain, as well as help your knees, hips, and back feel much better and looser as well.
There are many different types of light and laser therapy, but one specifically shown to help with foot pain including plantar fasciitis is High-intensity Laser therapy (HILT), or Class IV laser therapy. One study showed significant improvement in pain and function with HILT.
Ref. Ordahan, Karahan, et al. The effect of high-intensity versus low-level laser therapy in the management of plantar fasciitis: A randomized clinical trial. 2018. Lasers in Medical Science.
The great thing about HILT/Class IV laser therapy is that there are no side-effects, it is pain-free, and it is non-invasive. And an effective laser therapy treatment for foot pain can take as little as 5 minutes.
There are several taping techniques that may help alleviate different types of foot pain and conditions. Kinesiotape, Rocktape, and McConnell taping techniques are all good options. Some taping techniques are intended to help facilitate movement, while others are intended to help stabilize the foot. Some patients find taping to be extremely beneficial. It is not ideal for every patient or for every case, but when it is indicated, taping can be a simple, effective aid.
When it comes to foot pain and injury, Physical Therapists are loaded with helpful interventions to help you achieve your goals without unnecessary surgery, pills, or injections. If you would like to schedule a free consultation with one of our Doctors, either by phone or in-person to discuss your foot pain, even if you've had it for 5 years or more, you may do so by signing up here https://www.thegrpt.com/events-and-offers
And know that no matter what your injury, level of pain, or chronicity of pain, there is hope! Here is some feedback from a recent patient: "I suffered and went for over two years of various treatments-that didn’t really work-before I broached the idea of PT with my podiatrist. So glad I found you all! Not only did my plantar fasciitis finally subside, now I know what to do when it flares! Though if it gets bad enough, I’ll come back for sure!"
Now that is an awesome testament to the power of Physical Therapy!
In good health,
Dr. Ashley Bertorelli, PT, DPT, Owner/Founder of The Green Room Physical Therapy
Clifton Park & Troy