Sometimes it seems as though the foot pain will never go away. However, you can get the understanding and exercise you need through physical therapy to heal your feet and put an end to your foot discomfort.
Physical therapists assist patients in treating the cause of a foot issue and the symptoms by combining stretching, strengthening, and treatments, including ice, TENS, and massage.
COMMON CAUSES OF FOOT PAIN
When possible, your physical therapist will work to determine the exact cause of your foot pain and create a customized treatment plan to address it. The following are a few of the most typical foot issues we usually encounter in clinics:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinitis
- Ankle sprains
- Bone spurs
HOW PHYSICAL THERAPY CAN HELP
Physical therapy is one of the best ways to alleviate foot pain, and physical therapists are experts in musculoskeletal systems and mobility. They can provide a specific evaluation of your foot problem. Specifically, physical therapists can do the following to help:
- Establish treatment objectives: Achieving objectives is crucial to completing a rehab program successfully. Physical therapists help patients not only move better but also feel better by setting goals that are both attainable and practical.
- Develop a personalized exercise plan: The pain and discomfort brought on by the foot pain are reduced by using gentle foot stretches. Physical therapists can demonstrate to patients how to perform stretches like the pro stretch, the heel off, and the step stretch.
- Chooses appropriate treatments and modalities: Various therapies, such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, heat, and ice, could aid in achieving physical therapy objectives. Your physical therapist could pick suitable methods depending on the exact cause of your foot pain.
- Develop home exercise programs (HEPs): Physical therapists create an at-home exercise program for each patient after teaching a specific activity. Customers are provided printouts of the exercises so they can practice them consistently at home.
- Provide personalized education on injury prevention techniques: Physical therapists advise their patients on how to change their behaviours, especially of those that affect the occurrence of foot pain. They can teach patients the value of donning the proper footwear.
MANAGING DIAGNOSED FOOT ILLNESSES
The physical therapist can focus on treating the symptoms of a foot pain like plantar fasciitis, which affects about 10% of Americans. Still, manual therapies and rehabilitation exercises can relieve the pain and even cure the problem.
Exercises that a physical therapist trains you to do both in their presence and at home are referred to as rehabilitation exercises. You often perform precise movements in sets as directed by your PT. Regular practice of these exercises is necessary to stretch, build, and correct body weaknesses that can result in discomfort and functional difficulties.
Some exercises for plantar fasciitis include:
- Calf Stretches – Muscle tightness, especially in the calf muscle, is one factor that contributes to plantar fasciitis. Physical Therapists can demonstrate the finest calf stretches to do, including ones that concentrate on the area right at the ankle’s base, which is likely where most of the tension is concentrated.
- Arch Pump Ups – Stand with your feet spaced around a foot and a half apart. Put a penny under the big toe joint of each foot and a pen just above but not quite touching the arch of each foot. Next, force only your big toe joint into the ground as you squeeze the penny with that joint. Use only the toe joint on that foot. As a result, the arch will be raised upward and strengthened.
- Plantar Fascia Stretch – Place your ankle on top of the knee on the other leg. With one hand, pull your toes backwards until you feel a stretch at the bottom of your foot. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, then switch to the other foot. Perform this exercise three times once every day.
There are many muscles we target for additional foot issues. In the case of an ankle sprain, for instance, the muscles around the ankle are incredibly weak, making it quite simple to twist or roll the ankle once more and suffer another injury. To combat ankle weakness, patients perform balancing exercises, which support the ankle’s ability to maintain body equilibrium under stress. In this way, the ankle is prepared for any minor slip-ups.
PHYSICAL THERAPY FOR ACUTE FOOT PAIN
The type of injury or ailment we are treating will determine the exercises and treatment we perform.
- SWELLING: Swelling is common after a traumatic injury like an ankle sprain. Rest, Ice, compression, and Elevation (RICE) will help control swelling, soreness, and stiffness.
- LIMITED RANGE OF MOTION: You typically have less range of motion the more swollen the joint is. Flexing the ankle can be used to treat the range of motion. You can also perform alphabet exercises with the ankle or move it in circles.
- IMPAIRED GAIT: Your gait mechanics are addressed when you have regained your range of motion. Good gait mechanics provides a proper heel-to-toe pattern and ankle stability. To regain ankle stability, band and free weight exercises subject the ankle to various dorsiflexion and plantar flexion actions.
PHYSICAL THERAPY CONSIDERATIONS FOR CHRONIC FOOT PAIN: Your range of motion might be fine if your foot condition is chronic, but your strength might be a problem. We risk irritating sore tendons if we attempt to strengthen them too soon or quickly. Instead, we aim to remove irritating elements while controlling oedema and changing activities carefully. These actions help the foot settle down so we can start the healing process. A small amount of discomfort may be acceptable, but excessive discomfort may put the patient at risk. Because of this, it is crucial to have a professional leading you through therapy. Some people believe they can treat their chronic foot pain, but there is a chance that completing certain activities will make the pain worse and make it last longer.
Physical therapy can provide a range of therapies to aid when a foot injury restricts your activities. Most of us know that resting an injured foot is frequently a prudent initial step. Furthermore, we are aware that surgical options are available if foot discomfort intensifies and lingers. But not everyone may be aware that physical therapy can effectively treat various foot and ankle problems, including foot and ankle pain.
Don’t allow discomfort to restrict your activities and limit your life. Make an appointment for testing with your doctor and physical therapist to start finding solutions. Physical therapy can treat various foot pain conditions by offering the modalities and exercise instruction required to address structural problems, enhance posture, and lessen discomfort.