Earlier this month I caught up with a patient that had been to see me several years ago. I asked her about her foot pain, since that was the reason she had come to see me originally.
“I haven't really had any foot pain since you treated me, especially since I actually did follow the suggestions you made to prevent the problem from returning,” she said.
Although the first part of her statement made me glad the original treatments had worked for her, the second part reinforced the idea that helping patients prevent foot pain from coming back is just as important as helping them eliminate it in the first place.
Treating foot pain in my office is a frequent occurrence. Many people have chronic foot pain. In some severe cases, a referral to a podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon for surgical treatment may be necessary. However, since most people want to avoid surgery we have developed successful approaches that can eliminate foot pain without the need for steroid injections or surgery.
Acupuncture is a great help in resolving many cases of foot pain just as it is effective for other joint pain. For this type of problem we use specific types of acupuncture that are usually successful for orthopedic problems.
Although patients are often tentative about acupuncture, once they have the first treatment and realize that the tiny needles I use do not hurt and that the treatment is actually quite comfortable they are very excited about their progress.
Once foot pain is resolved I work with the patient to take steps to keep the pain from returning. Below are five tips I implement to help them change their habits.
1. Check your shoes. Unfortunately, many people cause their own foot problems because of the shoes they are wearing. Frequent problems include wearing shoes that are too small, not shaped like an actual human foot, too old, have heels that are too high or poorly designed. Wearing proper shoes can help prevent many cases of foot pain.
2. Change your shoes regularly. Wearing the same pair of shoes every day is asking for problems. For starters, foot odor is much less likely if you make a habit of allowing your shoes to have a full day to dry out between wearings. Nail fungus is often caused by wearing the same pair of shoes daily as well.
3. Do some simple foot exercises daily. I often work with patients to teach them specific foot exercises for their particular problem, but here are a couple of basics that everyone could benefit from. While standing about 2 feet from a wall or support such as a counter, lean forward to feel the backs of your calves stretch. Do this slowly and gently. After this step, gently do a few slow lunges with each foot. Lunges are the exercise in which one foot stays planted while you step forward with the other and bend the forward knee as far as you can comfortably.
There are many other exercises that I may choose for individuals, depending upon their unique needs, but these two can help most people.
4. Massage your feet daily. Your feet work hard all day, every day. Daily massage will help improve blood flow, relax tired muscles and stimulate nerves.
5. Soak in warm water at least three times a week. Using Epson salts in the water can also be helpful. Carefully dry all surfaces of the foot after the soak. Doing this in the evening may be helpful for a good night's sleep.
Post bonus tip: (We always try to deliver more than you expect!) If you are having foot problems already, find a solution now before the problems get worse. Many foot surgeries are done each year because patients ignore foot problems without getting professional help.