Why Do My Feet Hurt? Part 1: Arthritis-Related Pain

Summit foot and ankle expert Michael Anderson, D.O., explains the most common, treatable causes of foot pain in this two-part article series.

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“My feet hurt.” It’s one of the most common physical complaints, and almost everyone can relate to having occasional foot pain. But for some, foot pain is a daily nuisance. What are some of foot pain’s most common causes? And even more important, what can be done to treat it?

No matter what is causing your foot pain, there are a few steps you can take that will get things moving in the right direction. “Almost everyone with foot pain can see at least some benefit from wearing more supportive shoes and losing weight, which reduces the daily stress on the feet,” Dr. Anderson said.

Treatable causes of foot pain

“Feet and ankles can wear out with time and use. While ankle arthritis is much less common than knee or hip arthritis, big toe arthritis is more common. Ankle arthritis has been shown to be just as disabling as knee or hip arthritis,” Dr. Anderson said.

The most common foot pain causes can be divided into two broad categories: arthritis-related foot pain and tendon- or tissue-related foot pain. Part 1 of this series delves into arthritis-related reasons your feet hurt. Part 2 of this series covers tissue- and tendon-related causes.

Foot pain cause 1: big toe arthritis

Arthritis in the big toe joint is very common. It causes pain with standing and walking. “Any activity that puts you on the ball of your foot — from wearing high heels to using a stair climber — can lead to big toe arthritis,” Dr. Anderson said.

Nonsurgical treatment options include:

  • Activity modification
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs)
  • A carbon fiber footplate for the shoe, which will help your foot bend less
  • Steroid injections

Foot pain cause 2: midfoot or hindfoot arthritis

Midfoot arthritis can result in lingering foot pain. It is caused by arthritic changes in small joints in the middle of the foot. Carrying extra weight can increase your chances of developing midfoot arthritis. Age is also a factor.

The hindfoot is the area that connects the foot to the ankle. It can develop arthritis much like the midfoot can. Hindfoot arthritis is often the result of a flat foot.

Nonsurgical treatment options include:

  • Activity modification
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs)
  • Shoe modifications — particularly a rocker sole
  • Steroid injections

Foot pain cause 3: ankle arthritis

Unlike foot arthritis, ankle arthritis is more likely to be caused by a previous injury, such as a break or severe sprain. “It tends to have a more traumatic cause, as opposed to being ‘wear and tear’ related,” Dr. Anderson said.

Nonsurgical treatment options include:

  • Activity modification
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs)
  • Ankle brace (over-the-counter or custom)
  • Steroid injections

If nonoperative options don’t work, and your feet hurt continually, surgery can correct these problems as well. Dr. Anderson’s biggest piece of advice? Don’t wait. “These nonoperative options can work for a lot of people and can help them delay or avoid surgery,” he said. “At Summit, we can offer a lot of treatments short of surgery that can help people manage their foot pain.”

Summit Orthopedics offers personalized foot and ankle expertise

Our fellowship-trained foot and ankle physicians understand that your mobility depends on the health of your feet and ankles. If you have suffered an injury or are experiencing symptoms that make walking painful, our team of foot and ankle specialists can help with conservative treatment, seasoned surgical teams, and expert rehabilitation support. Summit Orthopedics specialists have the expertise to evaluate your discomfort and develop a plan to quickly and safely get you back on your feet and on your way.

Start your journey to optimal foot health. Find your foot and ankle expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNVadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

 

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