The management of foot pain can vary significantly for each patient as the best course of action depends on the cause of the pain. In most cases, patients will combine non-pharmaceutical therapy with medication to provide adequate relief of foot pain.
As specialists in the health of feet, a podiatrist often plays a central role in the management of foot pain.
For some patients, orthotics can help to support the feet properly. They are inserted inside shoes to improve the kind of foot pain that occurs when walking, running, or doing other movements with the feet. These insoles are created by the podiatrist, who molds a cast of the patient’s foot which is then inserted into the shoes. The orthotics may be constructed to be rigid, semi-rigid or soft, depending on the specific case.
There are various types of medications that may be used to relieve the pain and inflammation of the feet, or to address a specific cause that may be causing the pain.
Oral analgesic medications such as acetaminophen (paracetamol) or aspirin are often the first line choice for quick relief of foot pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen are also often recommended and can help to reduce inflammation at the same time. Topical formulations of some NSAIDs such as diclofenac may be preferred in some cases, as they help to reduce inflammation with a lowered risk of systemic side effects.
A local corticosteroid injection into the foot can help to control inflammation that is causing foot pain. Alternatively, an oral corticosteroid medication may be prescribed for more general pain that is part of a condition that also affects other areas of the body.
For patients with foot pain due to arthritis, disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) may be recommended. This class of drugs works to modify the course of the disease and slow the progression of pain severity. Alternatively, biologic response modifiers are a newer class of medication that can help to slow the disease progression by inhibiting the immune system, which is involved in causing rheumatoid arthritis.
Surgery may be required for some patients with severe foot pain, particularly if it inhibits them from walking or other activities. Surgical procedures that may be recommended include: