Why Do My Feet Hurt? Part 2: Tendon-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.

_woman feeling heel in black flats

While arthritis can cause sore feet day after day, it’s not the only reason for foot pain. The tissues and tendons that connect parts of the foot can become inflamed, leading to pain. What are the tendon- and tissue-related causes of foot pain? And how can you treat it?

If sore feet are plaguing you, there are some basic ideas that can help. “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.

Tissue- and tendon-related foot problems

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 delved into arthritis-related causes. Part 2 of this series covers tissue- and tendon-related causes.

Foot pain cause 1: plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is pain on the bottom of the heel. It is caused by inflammation of the fascia, which is a band of tissue that connects the heel to the toes. Plantar fasciitis often resolves on its own over a period of many months and up to a year. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that treatment options are available.

“Plantar fasciitis can be quite debilitating. There are lot of treatment options for plantar fasciitis, and we try to tailor the treatment plan to the patient. There are many things we can do to speed up the healing process and reduce pain,” Dr. Anderson said.

Nonsurgical treatment options for foot pain caused by plantar fasciitis include:

  • Stretching exercises
  • Splint worn at night
  • Steroid injections
  • Orthotics to relieve pain caused by alignment problems
  • Properly fitting shoes
  • Physical therapy, in some cases
  • Cast or walking boot (in severe cases)

“The treatment that has proved to be the most beneficial is a home plantar fascia stretching regimen,” Dr. Anderson said. Patients must make the commitment to complete the stretching exercises consistently, which can be a challenge.

Foot pain cause 2: Achilles tendinopathy

Achilles tendinopathy is inflammation of the Achilles tendon. It is among the top causes of foot pain. The Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone on the back of the heel.

“It’s a tight tendon, which puts a lot of tension on it,” Dr. Anderson said.

Nonsurgical treatment options for Achilles tendinopathy include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Stretching exercises
  • Properly fitting shoes
  • A heel lift in the shoes

“I send all patients with Achilles tendinopathy to physical therapy. Formal calf stretching is imperative,” Dr. Anderson said.

Dr. Anderson always recommends nonsurgical treatment options first — they will help most people get relief from most causes of foot pain. If nonoperative treatments don’t work, however, there are surgical treatments available as well.

“People tend to wait a long time before coming into the office with foot pain, but I encourage people not to wait. We can offer a lot of treatments that can help people manage their foot pain without surgery,” Dr. Anderson said.

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, MN, Plymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

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