Some common causes of foot pain are fractures, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, Morton’s neuroma, heel spurs, gout and neuropathy. Your first step is to get your problem accurately diagnosed so it may be cared for properly, and then you may try some common natural solutions for different foot pain.
Diagnosis is made with an x-ray, and if you do have a fracture your foot will need to be immobilized with a cast or a boot. Vitamin D(1), Vitamin C(2) and calcium are integral for bone repair and may help your bones to heal faster. Proper hormone levels are also necessary for bone health; if you are a woman, get your estrogen levels checked, if you are a man, make sure your testosterone levels are normal.
You have 31 tendons in a foot, and if one of them becomes inflamed it can cause a lot of pain. Like anywhere in the body, inflammation is designed to repair damaged structures, but inappropriate or unbridled inflammation can cause more harm than good. If you have tendonitis in your feet, you want to rest them as much as possible, and get a new pair of supportive shoes. Avoid foods that can cause inflammation, such as saturated and trans fats (3) and increase healthy fats such as Omega 3 fish oils (4). Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory as well(5)
Steroid injections are often used to manage the severe pain from plantar fasciitis, but while steroid injections significantly decrease pain, they actually weaken tissues, and need to be readministered for long term management. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) “is as effective as Steroid injection at achieving symptom relief at 3 and 6 months after injection. . . but unlike Steroid, its effect does not wear off with time. At 12 months, PRP is significantly more effective than steroid”(6) Joint mobilization of the foot and ankle, and stretching exercises (especially of the calf muscles) improved plantar fasciitis symptoms for up to a year.(7) You can also add in anti-inflammatories like EPA/DHA and Turmeric for natural management of inflammation. [see references above]. Change your shoes, sorry, no high heels, and acupuncture treatments may also be helpful in this case. (8)
Feeling like there is a pebble in your shoe between your third and fourth toes is from a thickening of tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes. This is called Morton’s neuroma and can cause a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot. This condition is often treated with surgery, but manual or physical therapy may eliminate the need for it.(9) Steroid injections are also helpful to manage pain in the conventional setting, and we can therefore extrapolate that anti-inflammatory supplements may help to manage pain from Morton’s neuroma as well.
Gout is a painful arthritis caused by the deposition of uric acid in your synovial joints. Uric acid is a byproduct of a rich diet high in protein and fat; royalty used to be the only people afflicted with this disease of excess, but our standard western diets are high in fat and protein and we now see it throughout the population. Decreasing meat and alcohol intake, while increasing the number of fruits and vegetables in your diet can help with gout pain. Cherries are especially effective in reducing gout attacks.(10)
Many diabetics experience foot pain from neuropathy. Managing blood sugar through diet may decrease neuropathic pain: avoid simple sugars, eat low glycemic, plant based, and unprocessed foods. B12 injections may also help with neuropathic pain. (11)
Remember, it is important to have your foot pain diagnosed correctly so you may make the best treatment choices. In general, wearing supportive, well-fitting footwear and decreasing inflammation are effective first steps to decrease foot pain. Sneakers and flats aren’t as sexy as stilettos, but they are much healthier in the long run because high heels put unnatural pressures on the foot in places it was not designed to withstand them. PRP and stem cell therapies are also incredibly effective to help tissues heal in the foot, and elsewhere.
Sprague S, Petrisor B, Scott T etal. What is the role of vitamin D supplementation in acute fracture patients? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the prevalence of hypovitaminosis D and supplementation efficacy. J Orthop Trauma. 2015 Sep 22.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26429406
Aghajanian P, Hall S, Wongworawat MD, Mohan S. The roles and mechanisms of actions of vitamin C in bone: New Developments. J Bone Miner Res. 2015 Nov; 30(11):1945-55.
Melnik BC. Linking diet to acne metabolomics, inflammation, and comedogenesis: an update. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015 July 15;8:371-88.
Sears B. Anti-Inflammatory Diets. J Am Coll Nutr. 2015;34 Suppl 1:14-21.
Boyanapalli SS, Tony Kong AN. “Curcumin, the King of Spices”: Epigenetic Regulatory Mechanisms in the Prevention of Cancer, Neurological, and Inflammatory Diseases. Curr Pharmacol Rep. 2015 Apr; 1(2):129-39.
Jain K, Murphy PN, Clough TM. Platelet Rich Plasma versus corticosteroid injection for plantar fasciitis: A comparative study. Foot (Edinb). 2015 Aug 22. doi: 10.1016/j.foot.2015.08.006
Celik D, Kus G, Sirma SO. Joint Mobilization and Stretching Exercise vs Steroid injection in the Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis: A Randomized Controlled Study. Foot Ankle Int. 2015 Sep 23. Epub.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26400901
Kumnerddee W, Pattapong N. Efficacy of electro-acupuncture in chronic plantar fasciitis: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Chin Med. 2012;40(6):1167-76.
Sault JD, Morris MV, Jayaseelan DJ, Emerson-Kavchak AJ. Manual therapy in the management of a patient with a symptomatic Morton’s neuroma: A case report. Man Ther. 2015 Mar 27. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2015.03.010
Zhang Y, Neogi T, Chen C etal. Cherry consumption and decreased risk of recurrent gout attacks. Arthritis Rheum. 2012 Dec. 64(12): 4004-11.
(x) Solomon LR. Vitamin B12-responsive neuropathies: A case series. Nutr Neurosci. 2015 Feb 24 epub. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25710280