If you’re experiencing foot pain that seems to never go away, there are many different conditions that could be the source of your pain. The most common cause for heel pain is plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is the long band of tissue on the bottom of the foot ranging from the heel to toes. Bunions are also a common deformity that can cause chronic foot pain. Let’s take a look at these two conditions in greater detail.
With plantar fasciitis, the fascia first becomes irritated and then becomes inflamed, resulting in heel pain. Most often, the inflammation is caused by putting repetitive stress on the foot. Many people experience this—from runners, dancers and other athletes, to people whose job involves a lot of standing and pressure on the foot. Because repetitive stress is such a common cause of heel pain, foot and ankle specialists categorize plantar fasciitis as an “overuse” condition.
Some symptoms to be aware of are pain on the bottom of the heel, although some patients experience pain in the arch of the foot. The pain is usually worse when arising in the morning or after sitting for a long time, and then it may go away after walking for a few minutes. If left untreated, the pain with plantar fasciitis will increase over a period of months. If you’ve experienced these symptoms, it’s important that you see a foot and ankle specialist right away to find out the cause of your pain, get a proper diagnosis and start effective treatment.
Did you know that bunions are extremely common? Many people think bunions are just the bump on side of the big toe, but the bump of a bunion is actually a visible sign of what’s going on inside the foot. It reflects changes taking place in the bony framework in the front of the foot. The big toe leans toward the second toe instead of pointing straight out. This throws the bones out of alignment and forms the characteristic bump.
Bunions are a progressive disorder, which means the leaning usually gets worse, and alters the angle of the bones in that area. As a result, the bump becomes more prominent, and that’s when symptoms appear (although some people never have symptoms). The foot and ankle surgeon will confirm that you have a bunion, rather than a different condition that can resemble a bunion, such as gout or arthritis. Sometimes bunions can be treated conservatively, through nonsurgical options. But for many people, surgery is appropriate if nonsurgical treatments fail to provide adequate relief.
Bunion surgery is called a bunionectomy. A bunionectomy corrects the changes in the foot’s bony structure, removes the bump and corrects any soft tissue changes that may have occurred. A bunionectomy is performed to accomplish three goals: reduce the pain, improve the patient’s ability to function normally and decrease the deformity itself. Your surgeon will determine the right procedure for you depending on your x-ray results, age, activity level and other factors.
Living with chronic foot pain is no fun. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, find a foot and ankle specialist today to get the relief you need.