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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Top Ten Reasons Why Your Feet Hurt - And How To Alleviate The Pain!

Ten Reasons Why Your Feet Hurt -
And How To Alleviate The Pain. 



1. You're walking barefoot. 
I don't care what any of the minimalist enthusiasts claim - if you are having foot pain then you need to eliminate barefoot walking from your life! Podiatrists make money by removing foriegn bodies such as glass or cactus spines from the bottom of people's feet. Not to mention warts, which are a virus and can live on floor surfaces for days - just waiting for you to walk barefoot so the virus can find a new home to thrive in - your feet! Warts can be painful, they are ugly and they can be expensive and time consuming for you to treat. Walking barefoot is the perfect way to get heel pain (plantar fasciitis), tendonitis, broken toes and encourage the development of bunions and hammertoes - just to name a few. 

The Fix: In the house, instead of barefoot, try wearing RX Crocs Ultimate Cloud or RX Crocs Relief. Other options are the Orthoheel Diabetic Slippers, which you can purchase online or Birkenstock sandals. You can use the 20% discount coupon in the upper right hand of this blog to order the Crocs. They only come in even sizes so order up a half or whole size. If your toes hit the front of the Crocs then they are too small. If they feel too big, that is okay. Wear the strap to the back so your feet stay in and remember that they are used as a bedroom slipper until you can put on your better shoes. You will not believe how much better your feet feel!


2. You're wearing flimsy flip-flops.
Flimsy flip flops offer no support or protection to your feet. They will help to prevent picking up warts and some foreign bodies, but they flimsy flip-flops can put you at risk of developing fractures, tendonitis, heel pain, bunions and hammertoes. 

The Fix: If you are a hardcore flip-flop fan - at the very least upgrade to the Fit-Flop flip-flop, which is one of the better ones. In my opinion, there are no good flip-flops and I do not recommend wearing flip-flops of any type, but consider the Fit-Flop flip-flop your 'gateway drug' to getting into better shoegear. 


3. You're wearing bedroom slippers that are too flexible. 
Flimsy bedroom slippers offer little to no biomechanical control for your feet and ankles. If you have any conditions such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis or pain of any type in your feet - everytime your flexible bedroom slipper puts motion through that area of pain - you are aggravating the condition. 

The Fix: I recommend the RX Crocs Ultimate Cloud, the RX Crocs Relief, the Orthoheel Diabetic Slipper, or Birkenstock sandals to wear in the house as a bedroom slipper. 

4. You're walking around your house wearing only socks. 
Socks might protect you from warts, but that is about it. Once again, walking around in socks offers no support or biomechanical control to your feet, ankles, knees, hip or lower back and makes you prone to all sorts of injuries. I would estimate that twenty percent of my business comes from injuries sustained as the patient walks between the bed and bathroom at night when they are going to the bathroom. 

The Fix: I recommend the RX Crocs Ultimate Cloud, the RX Crocs Relief, the Orthoheel Diabetic Slipper or Birkenstock sandals. Even if you get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night - wear your RX Crocs. 

5. You have an underlying medical issue that is causing foot pain. 
There are many medical conditions that cause foot pain. Diabetes can cause nerve damage (neuropathy) pain in the feet that can feel like your feet are numb. The sensation of numbness can be excrutiating. Other sensations caused by neuropathy pain are if your feet feel like you have ace wraps wrapped tightly around your feet or if you feel like you are walking on sponges or if you feel like ants are biting your feet. There are many variations of neuropathy pain. Other diseases that can cause foot pain are fibromyalgia, chronic regional pain syndrome, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, varicose veins and peripheral arterial disease (poor circulation). 

The Fix: First, go to your primary care physician on a regular basis. If you have not been to a doctor in over a year, make an appointment with your primary care physician for a full physical. If you do have an underlying disease such as diabetes the most important thing is to get a proper diagnosis and proper treatment to get the disease under control. High blood sugars cause damage to the nerve, which results in nerve damage. Undiagnosed diabetes also takes a terrible toll on your eyes and can lead to blindness. The key to a healthy life is to get diagnosed with your disease early so you can spend the rest of your life medically managing the disease. I know that does not sound like fun, but it sure beats the alternative! Second, follow up with a podiatrist in your area. There are many things that podiatrists can do to help control the foot pain that is caused by various diseases.  


6. You're walking around with an undiagnosed fracture in your foot. 
If you are walking around with a dull, aching, constant pain (like a toothache) that rates at a four on a scale of zero (no pain) to ten (excrutiating pain), then there is a very good chance that you are walking around on an undiagnosed fracture. People assume that if you break a bone in your foot that you have horrible pain and you can't walk and although this can be true, it is more common to have a dull, low grade, constant ache in your foot that is often an untreated stress fracture. 

The Fix: Make an appointment with your local podaitrist who will do a full examination, take x-rays and properly treat the fracture. A  fracture usually takes six weeks to heal. Stop limping around and go get x-rays and get it properly treated so you can get back to having fun!

7. You work retail.
We are surrounded by concrete! Constant repetitive micro-trauma on a hard, unyeilding surface can be brutal on the feet. Even with the best shoes, careers in retail are tough on the feet, knees, hip and lower back. 

The Fix: If you can wear tennis shoes at work, get the New Balance 928 or 1540. If you have to wear black shoes, you can purchase the NB 928 in black leather. If you have to wear something a little dressier, try the Dansko Professional Clogs (wear the ones with rearfoot control). For more dress shoe options, please refer to my blog articles: Top 25 Comfortable dress shoes list' and 'Top 25 comfortable boot lists'. Scroll through my blog as I created it as a resource for my patients to find good looking shoes that are good for their feet and are pathology specific. Yes, there are some ugly shoes, but keep looking - there are tons of options and when you find something you like, google the shoe to see what stores carry it and go try it on. If it feels great, then get it. If it doesn't feel great, keep looking. If nothing feels good, then you need an appointment with your local podiatrist because there may be something else going on - like a stress fracture or an underlying systemic problem that can be treated. 


8. You have 'biomechanically challenged' feet. 
This is my own term and what it means is that you were born with a genetic biomechanical structure to your feet that, if you do not wear proper shoes and arch support throughout your life, then you are destined to at some point in your life hit a 'tipping point' where you start developing foot, knee, hip or lower back pain. Detroit car manufacturers have robots that slam the car door over and over again so that they can determine at what point the car door hinge breaks. Think of your forefoot joints as a 'hinge'. It is logical to realize that all hinges have a number where they start to wear out and break down. In medicine we call this 'osteoarthritis', which is a fancy way of saying that the joint and the joint cartilage is damaged. The good news is that if you do have an underlying foot structure such as flat feet or functional hallux limitus, then you can go to your local podiatrist and get the proper diagnosis and treatment. In my opinion, ninety-nine percent of biomechanically challenged feet can be controlled by proper shoes and inserts, which will help to stop or slow the progression of you developing foot problems and pain. 

The Fix: Make an appointment with your podaitrist to have a biomechanical evaluation with x-rays. I like it when my patients bring in one bag of shoes that they wear most often so I can evaluate if their shoegear is appropriate for their foot type. For more information, please refer to my article on this blog entitled 'My feet hurt: top ten things to do to alleviate foot pain' or 'Shoe recommendations for patients recovering from a Lisfranc's injury'. 
In a nutshell, wear RX Crocs Ultimate Cloud in the house as a bedroom slipper, purchase the New Balance 928 or 1540 and wear arch support such as a custom-molded insert or a good over-the-counter insert from your podiatrist. This will work quite well for eightly percent of people. If you do all this and are still having foot pain, make an appointment with your podiatrist. 

9. You are compensating when you walk because you are having knee, hip and lower back pain. 
If you are limping or compensating for any reason, then you are causing problems. It's a domino effect! No one has a perfect gait and to some degree we all compensate when we walk, but if you are limping because of knee, hip or lower back pain for more than three to seven days - all you are doing is learning how to limp. When you see geriatric patients walking with walkers and canes - that did not happen overnight. It can be a slow, insidious process that is years in the making. If you are limping around and telling yourself, "Oh, it'll get better", then you are probably fooling yourself. All you are doing is learning how to compensate, which leads to wear and tear of your joint and more limping. 

The Fix: If you are limping or in pain due to knee, hip or lower back pain for more than three to seven days, make an appointment with your primary care physician or an orthopedic specialist to get an evaluation, x-rays and proper treatment. Nip it in the bud! I had an eighty-two year old lady with chronic pain in both feet for twenty years before she made an appointment with a doctor. I was the first doctor she ever saw for her foot pain. We took x-rays and she had been walking around on a clearly seen stress fracture of the 2nd metatarsal for twenty years! With proper treatment, we had her back in proper shoes and inserts with minimal pain within eight weeks. After she was healed, I sent her to physical therapy for 'gait re-training' so she could learn how to walk more normally.

10. Genetics.
Foot problems are usually caused by what I call the big three: genetics, trauma and poor shoegear. Foot issues such as bunions, hallux limitus, hypermobility and flat feet (to name a few) can be genetic and run in families. Genetic foot problems can also skip a generation. So, just because your parents never had any foot problems, that doesn't mean that you didn't have a grandparent with the same foot type. 

The Fix: Ask your parents and grandparents if they ever had foot pain. If they did have foot pain, you probably already know all about it because they probably have been quite vocal about the pain at the end of the day! Check your children's feet. If you are having foot pain then there is a good chance that your children have the same foot type that can lead to the same foot problems that you have. The wonderful thing is that it is a golden opportunity for you to get your children into proper shoes and arch support early so that hopefully they don't develop problems as they get older. You could potentially save them knee, hip and lower back problems also! 

Also, Excessive Weight. 
I dislike talking about this one because it is so obvious and people already know if they need to lose weight. I would like to say that if your feet hurt then it becomes hard to exercise, which can cause you to gain weight. If you are gaining or have already gained weight because your feet hurt and you are unable to exercise, it is very important that you get treated for your foot pain so you can return to your exercise regime. It's a vicious cycle: foot pain leads to less exercise, which leads to more weight gain, which leads to more pressure on the feet and more foot pain, which leads to "I can't exercise because my feet hurt worse", which leads to depression and increased risk of diabetes, which leads to  more weight gain - and the vicious cycle continues. 

My Professional Mantra: My job as your podiatrist is to keep you as active as possible for as long as possible with less injuries so that you see less doctors, including me. This goal can be achieved by making sure that you are in proper shoegear and inserts and change some simple habits. I have based my private podiatry practice on these concepts and they work. I no longer have to perform surgery as I can treat the vast majority of foot pain with conservative, non-surgical treatment. Give it a try for four weeks and you judge for yourself. 



I hope that this was helpful! 

If you have any 'limpers' in your life, I would love it if you could share my blog with them through social media or just good old fashioned word of mouth. 

Also, if you are into detective stories, check out my latest novel 'Gunning For Angels', which is available on Amazon for Kindle or in paperback. 


Thank you for reading!


Dr. Cathleen A. McCarthy


:)








29 comments:

Kiara Thorne said...

I had no idea that my shoes were affecting my back pain! I need to change the kind of shoes I wear. I have had chronic back pain for years now. Maybe this will help. http://www.harapodiatrists.com/family_podiatry_covina_CA.html

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Kiara,
Thanks for reading the blog! I hope this does help with your back pain and I would love it if your could share our blog with any other 'limpers' in your life.
Thank you!
Cathy
:)

Gary Puntman said...

I have been having some problems with my feet. I am in a lot of pain because of it. I need to get some new shoes to help ease the pain. I think that would make a big difference. http://www.alliedanklefoot.com/our-physicians.html

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Gary,
Sorry to hear that your feet are hurting! Check out my other articles on this blog for very specific recommendations that I hope will help you -
* Shoe recommendations for patients recovering from Lisfranc's Injuries
* My feet hurt - top ten things to do to alleviate foot pain today

Thank you for reading the blog and I would love it if you could share the blog info with any 'limpers' in your life!

Cathy
:)

Jennifer Davies said...

My younger brother walked around on a stress fracture from a soccer injury for three weeks before he finally went in! Like you said, the pain wasn't as intense as any of us thought it would be for a fracture. Now we get x-rays first and ask questions later. Thanks for the tips!
Jenn | http://www.acpodiatry.com.au

Sara Welsh said...

There is so much great and informative information in this post. My feet have been killing, and I've been thinking about going to see a podiatrist, but I'm going to try these tips. It would be great to get my feet feeling better!
Sara Welsh | http://houstonfootankle.com

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Hickory Poscery said...

I seem to always have blisters on my feet. Why is that? Do I just have very sensitive skin on my feet?
http://www.pinkerandassociates.com

Lindsey said...

I've been following your blog for over a year and you've helped me more than you'll ever know ... thank you! One thing I still haven't done is acquire a new pair of Crocs to wear around the house (the old ones are completely worn out). This summer I wore my Keen Newports but now that the snow is flying, I'd like something a little cozier. I could get the Crocs Mammoth, but frankly, black is boring :) I have my eye on the Blitzen II. They look like the Mammoth but with less ventilation. But then again, they all look the same to me. Is there a significant difference between the different Crocs models?

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Lindsey,
Thank you for the kind words! I have good news - the Blitzen II looks good for wearing around the house as a bedroom slipper. I love giving good news - so many times I have to nix shoes and I hate doing that, but I have the rare pleasure of saying "A+ on your choice!"
Thanks for reading and if you have any limpers in your life - please share the blog with them.
Thank you!
Cathy
:)

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Hickory Poscery,
What a great name! The US Army has done extensive research and testing to find out what causes blisters and how to treat them effectively. All of their research shows that blisters are caused by two things: poor fitting shoegear and bad socks. I am also of the opinion that there is an underlying genetic component that makes you more prone to blisters.

I recommend that you get properly sized and fitted for shoes and follow the four criteria of what constitutes a good shoe: thick, rigid, non-flexible sole, arch support, wide toebox and rearfoot control.

I also recommend that you go to a running store and buy socks with man-made fibers, which are more expensive but well worth the money. If you are diabetic, I would recommend that you get 'diabetic socks' which are also made of special man-made fibers that decrease friction that causes blisters.

The military studies show that all of the blister medications help for one hour and then make the blisters worse. There is no substitute for proper shoegear and good socks.

Thank you for reading the blog! If you have any limpers in your life I would love it if you could share the blog info with them!

Cathy
:)

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Sara,
Thanks for reading the blog!
GIve these tips a try and if you are still having foot pain then I would highly recommend seeing a Podiatrist for a full evaluation and treatment.
Have a lovely day,
Cathy
:)

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

HI Jenn,
The story you tell about your brother walking around on a fracture for weeks is very common! I'm so glad he sought treatment and I hope he is doing better.
Thank you for reading the blog and I would love it if you could share the blog with any 'limpers' in your life!
Cathy
:)

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Susan Hirst said...

My uncle is a diabetic, so it's very important that he takes care of his feet. He's been complaining that his feet are sore. Maybe he should talk to a podiatrist and see if he can recommend a better shoe?

Susan Hirst | http://www.advancedfootclinic.org/salem-areas/keizer-podiatrist/

Tony De Azevedo said...

I never realized that walking around barefoot could be so bad for your feet. I used to always play basketball with my kids without shoes on. I ended up having to get all kinds of treatments on my feet because they were so messed up. http://www.millcroftorthotic.com/footcare-services/

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Susan,

I'm sorry to hear that your Uncle is diabetic. I strongly encourage you to get him to visit his local podiatrist for a diabetic foot exam.

All diabetics should be seeing a podiatrist and an eye doctor on an annual basis. Diabetics have special foot needs as part of the disease process is that they can often develop neuropathy (nerve damage) and arterial disease (decreased circulation) that put them at risk for infections, gangrene and possible amputation. I always advise my diabetic patients that it is my job as their podiatrist to keep their feet attached to them.

Medicare has a great program where they will pay to get diabetic patients into an extra depth shoes with good inserts on an annual basis.

Please encourage your Uncle to go to his local Podiatrist for a diabetic foot check!

Thanks for reading!

Cathy
:)

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Tony,

I was recently watching the "30-for 30" ESPN special on the NY Knickerbockers and I was amazed that these professional atheletes were playing in high top Converse sneakers with no suport! I wonder if better shoes might have enhanced their playing even more? I'm glad to hear that you are not playing basketball anymore in barefeet!

Thank so much for reading the blog!
Cathy
:)

Anonymous said...

I have been having severe foot pain and am thrilled to have found your blog! This is such a huge value to anyone w/foot issues - you rock!

However, even after reading a number of your posts, I am having difficulty reconciling the concept of wearing highly supportive stiff soled, non-flexible shoes with the idea that being barefoot is the healthiest for your feet and body. My understanding is that in a shoe, your foot can’t bend, rotate or flex, but barefoot gives your feet a workout. The more your feet work, the stronger they become and can begin re-building the arch and lengthen the Achilles. If we allow our orthotics and shoes to do this work for us, our feet will actually get worse over time as muscles atrophy and we lose flexibility. These beliefs are supported by articles like this: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2010/01/27/running-barefoot-is-better-researchers-find/

Can you please speak a little bit towards refuting this sort of thinking? Because I can't let go of it right now. Thanks1

Lana Schow said...

I'm so glad I found this blog because I've been having foot pain since my daughter was born in October and I never thought that going barefoot/wearing only socks around the house could be the reason! But it makes total sense. I've been to so many podiatrists over the past 7 years as I've dealt with tendinitis in both feet. I bought the diabetic slippers a couple months ago and it has definitely helped. I'm having pain in the balls of my feet, now. Should I get some metatarsal pads to wear in my shoes? I stopped taking ibuprofen, but should I continue? Or apply topical anti-inflammatory? I also alternate ice and heat foot soak a few times a week at night. I just want to be able to resume my exercise routine (mainly lifting and biking). I also want to complete a sprint triathlon in August. If you could give me your thoughts I would really appreciate it. Thanks so much.

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Lana,
Sorry for the delayed reply! With any forefoot issues, the most important thing you can do is make sure that you are ALWAYS wearing a shoe with a thick, rigid and non-flexible sole that NEVER puts motion through the bottom of the foot - especially the forefoot. Of course, I am not familiar with your case so I recommend that you consult your podiatrist. However, I would recommend the Rx Crocs Ultimate Cloud or Relief as a bedroom slipper, the New Balance 928 for walking exercises and all day wear (until you are healed), a custom molded orthotic (if possible) and if you want to pursue running activites, I recommend the Hoka One One Stinson - although I would be VERY cautious with getting back into running! If you've been to seven podiatrists and are still having foot issues - getting back into running too soon might cause real problems. Running is great for cardiovascular but it can wreak havoc with the joints.
Good luck!
Cathy
:)

Jenna said...

Hi - I think you may have missed my question from a few months ago, so re-posting!
-----------------
have been having severe foot pain and am thrilled to have found your blog! This is such a huge value to anyone w/foot issues - you rock!

However, even after reading a number of your posts, I am having difficulty reconciling the concept of wearing highly supportive stiff soled, non-flexible shoes with the idea that being barefoot is the healthiest for your feet and body. My understanding is that in a shoe, your foot can’t bend, rotate or flex, but barefoot gives your feet a workout. The more your feet work, the stronger they become and can begin re-building the arch and lengthen the Achilles. If we allow our orthotics and shoes to do this work for us, our feet will actually get worse over time as muscles atrophy and we lose flexibility. These beliefs are supported by articles like this: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2010/01/27/running-barefoot-is-better-researchers-find/

Can you please speak a little bit towards refuting this sort of thinking? Because I can't let go of it right now. Thanks!

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Jenna,
Sorry for the delayed response!
The universe is working against me on this one - I've answered this twice and bot times it didn't post. Maybe the 3rd time is the charm! I'm going to keep it short, if you don't mind. We brush and floss our teeth so our teeth won't rot out. We put on sunscreen and wear hats to prevent skin cancer. We are living longer and we are walking around on concrete floors. If you are walking barefoot to strengthen muscles, tendons and ligaments - what about joints? Osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease is simply a fancy way of saying that the joint are becoming damaged and breaking down after a specific injury or, more commonly, after years of abusing our feet with poor shoe gear and repetitive micro-trauma on concrete floors. I've got a practice full of patients who have led active and healthy lifestyles and, now that they are getting older, they are faced with foot, knee, hip and lower back joint issues that is decreasing the quality of their lives by limiting their activities, ability to travel and exercise, which leads to more anxiety, depression and often weight gain. Protect your body and it will last longer.
Hope that was helpful and, once again, sorry for the delay in responding!
Cathy
:)

Lana Schow said...

Cathy,
I just came back to your site because I recommended it to a friend, so I checked the comments and noticed you had responded. Thank you! My feet are feeling much better. I've been taking your advice and I never go without shoes anymore. That has made such a world of difference. I can't believe it. So, thank you for that. I've decided not to run anymore. Too many problems with it. I'll stick to walking, biking, and swimming. :) Thank you again!

Lana

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Lana,
Glad to hear that you're doing well!
Thanks for reading the blog and I am so glad I was able to help,
Cathy
:)

Sean said...

Hey Cathy!

I love your blog and all of your shoe reviews. I have recently developed plantar fasciitis due to my flat feet and I've found your advice to be very helpful. My only concern is that for most of the shoes that you've recommended (like the Rx crocs, running shoes, etc.) I've got a pair of size 14 clown feet and I can't seem to find any of these wonderful brands that you've recommended in my size. For those of us who have larger than normal feet, do you have any advice on brands/shoes to look out for home use or exercising?

Doctor of Podiatry Discusses and Recommends Shoes. said...

Hi Sean,
Sorry for the delayed response!
Your best bet for larger sized shoes is to shop online. Once you find a shoe that fits the criteria for what constitutes an excellent shoe (rigid sole, wide toebox and rearfoot control with added arch support) - start your google search for larger sized shoes. I don't have a particular website to recommend, but I would do a google search for your standards like the NB 928, NB 1540, Rx Crocs Relief, ect -- in your size.
I actually have a patient who wears a men's size 24! He has to have his shoes custom-made, which costs him about $800 for each pair!
Thank you for reading and best of luck!
Cathy
:)