Foot strain – Causes, symptoms and treatment

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Foot strain is a mild or severe pain in the foot. The condition can be caused by a great deal of walking, standing, running on hard surfaces or even wearing shoes without adequate cushioning.

Foot strain – Causes, symptoms and treatmentIn people suffering from foot deformities, even normal pressure on the foot may lead to foot strain. Evidence claims that almost 70% of people suffer from foot strain at some point of their lives. Foot strain can be acute or chronic involving mechanical effects on soft tissues of the foot.

Causes of foot strain

The main cause of foot strain is excess pressure on the foot or any kind of deformity in the foot. Other causes like long term standing, walking or running, using inadequate shoes or hard studded boots, problem in ligaments, tendons, muscles, fascia, toenail beds, nerves, blood vessels, or skin can contribute to increased pressure on foot leading to foot strain.

Several factors that can increase the risk of having foot strain include:

  • Age - Old aged people are at higher risk of foot strain due to widening of feet and dry skin on the feet
  • Gender -Women are at a higher risk of developing foot strain due to the use of high heeled shoes.
  • Standing work - Occupation that needs a person to stand for long hours like farmers, nurses, on site workers are prone to foot strain
  • Pregnancy - Weight gain and release of a few hormones in pregnant women increases the risk of foot strain
  • Obesity – Body weight can lead to foot strain as increase in weight leads to stress on the foot.
  • Dancing and sports – Professional dancers and people playing outdoor games are at higher risk of foot strain
  • Inward rolling of the foot
  • Presence of blisters and corns
  • Sciatica and osteomyelitis

Symptoms of foot strain

The most prominent sign of foot strain is pain. Though it can involve any part of the foot, it significantly appears in front of the heel and under-ball of the foot. Prolonged foot strain may lead to deformity of the foot.

Diagnosis of food strain

Though there is no specific test to diagnose foot strain, it can be diagnosed with the help of physical examination. Doctor may ask questions regarding symptoms appeared to evaluate the presence of foot strain.

Few examinations like an X-ray, MRI or CT scan may be required to confirm diagnosis and rule out other injuries to foot.

Treatment of foot strain

Foot strain can be treated with the help of medications, physical therapy and imaging/ultrasound.

Medication therapy involves use of several drugs like analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, COX-2 inhibitors, opioid analgesics, nerve pain medications, nerve blocks, corticosteroids etc.

The other treatment option available is ultrasound. It aims at reducing inflammation with the help of high frequency sound waves.
Physical therapy for foot strain involves:

  • Foot massage – which improves circulation, stimulates muscles, reduces tension, and often alleviates pain
  • Metatarsal support/ padding/ arch support
  • Foot exercises
  • Using comfortable footwear
  • Avoiding shoes footwear with high heels

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