Mid-Week MOT: Part Two - Lower Leg/Foot Pain.
Last week we spoke about the importance of wearing appropriate activity specific footwear and looking after your feet.
We spend a lot of time on our feet and there is no putting your leg in a sling when its damaged!
This article will cover some common foot and leg problems and advice on how to treat them.
All the information is from peer reviewed and current research but does not replace the need to seek professional help if you have symptoms.
Let us start with shin splints - that annoying pain in the front of your shin during or after your run. 'Shin splints' actually refers to stress fractures of the tibia and the term is often used even though the actual condition is medial tibial stress syndrome - inflammation of the muscle attachments and bone covering tissue along the front of the shin.
Sudden increase in running distance or jumping activities particularly on hard surfaces, along with being overweight, or having flat feet, can cause this condition. Tight calf muscles also predispose you as well as your foot rolling in or pronating on weight bearing.
You should not ignore lower leg pain as there may be a fracture or vascular issue such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) so get it checked out sooner rather than later. Pain that stops quickly after exercise is not a mechanical issue and needs medical attention.
You should reduce your activity, consider pain relief such as ibuprofen, use ice packs to reduce inflammation and get your foot position checked out.
Next we will discuss heel and foot pain - do you wake up in the morning and find it difficult to walk because your heel hurts? Does it go away after a few steps only to return during the day if you walk or run too much? The chances are you have plantar fasciitis. This annoying condition is really simple to diagnose and treat but can linger for months so catch it early with correct treatments. You will likely have tight calf muscles, flat or high arches, a history of ankle injury or have spent excessive time in high heeled shoes.
The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue along the sole of your foot that supports and maintains the arches and improves foot efficiency when walking. When the fascia is tight or put under pressure from a flat foot or high arch, it pulls on its attachments on the front of the heel bone and causes pain and inflammation. This is worse after exercise and first thing in the morning. You may develop a traction spur of bone at this point as your body reacts to extra stress by reinforcing it with its strongest substance. It can feel like you are walking on a stone and can cause you to limp, which may effect the structures further up such as your knee or hip in the long term. If your heel hurts when you squeeze it then this may be a stress fracture so you need to seek medical help for an x-ray or scan. Foot pain can also come from your lower back so get assessed early by your GP or osteopath.
In the mean time, stretch your calf muscles, consider orthotic inserts in your shoes to correct flat foot, ice your foot by rolling a frozen water bottle under your arch while you wear a thin sock to protect your skin. Replace worn out footwear and reduce activity until you have a diagnosis.
Thanks for reading this article, if you have any comments or questions then post below!
As always if you live in the High Wycombe area or beyond, get in touch for an appointment with Lucy at Osteofusion. Visit: www.osteofusion.co.uk or ring 07833 321604.