If you've recently noticed a shooting or stabbing pain in your foot while engaging in certain activities, or if part of your foot is actually numb to the touch, you may be wondering what is causing your symptoms and how your condition can be treated. When foot pain is not caused by a specific, tangible activity or experience (like a running injury or wearing too-tight shoes), it can be frustrating to try to determine the cause, or to deal with daily pain while managing your symptoms. However, the vast majority of foot pain and numbness is caused by one of the two conditions listed below -- each of which are fairly easily treated. Click here or read on to learn more about these conditions and how to manage their more unpleasant symptoms, as well as the treatment options you can expect.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia -- the connective tissue that binds your heel to your toes. Usually this inflammation is near the largest part of the plantar fascia, which wraps around the rear of the heel. This condition often causes sudden, stabbing heel pain, particularly in the mornings or after you've spent a long time in a sitting position. You may be at risk of developing plantar fasciitis if you're overweight or spend a lot of time on your feet, either at work or at home. Competitive runners may also develop plantar fasciitis as a type of overuse injury.
Treating plantar fasciitis depends on the severity of the condition. If diagnosed early, it rarely requires extensive intervention -- it can usually be treated through orthotic shoe inserts, rest, or anti-inflammatory drugs. If the plantar fasciitis is more serious or is significantly hindering your ability to go about your everyday life, your doctor may recommend corticosteroid shots in your heel or even surgery. Steroid shots are generally effective in eliminating the pain and loss of motion that comes with plantar fasciitis, but will not solve the underlying condition. Surgery may be able to separate the painful portion of the plantar fascia from your heel, which can permanently correct the problem.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome
You've probably heard of carpal tunnel syndrome -- a painful, sometimes debilitating condition that can result from overuse and constriction of the delicate tendons in the wrist and fingers. However, the same condition may manifest itself in your ankle and foot as tarsal tunnel syndrome. Tarsal tunnel can be caused by a variety of factors, including flat feet, rheumatoid arthritis, bone spurs, or even wearing shoes that are too tight. In some cases, tarsal tunnel can develop after you have experienced a broken or strained ankle, if the tendons and ligaments have healed in such a way as to constrict the nerves in your ankle.
Like plantar fasciitis, tarsal tunnel syndrome may be treated in a variety of non-invasive ways, from protective orthotic footwear to an ankle splint to be worn at night to reduce pressure on the constricted nerves. However, if these methods do not provide you with much relief, you may want to look into tarsal tunnel release surgery.
This operation involves the surgical "release" of the constricted nerve in your foot. In some cases, your symptoms may be caused by a buildup of scar tissue surrounding the nerve. If this is the case, surgical removal of the scar tissue may be the only option to return your foot and ankle to normal condition. This surgery is relatively minor, and is usually performed on an outpatient basis. After a brief recovery, during which you will be cautioned against putting weight on your affected foot, you will likely notice a significantly increased range of motion in your foot and ankle. The shooting or stabbing pain that you may have associated with your condition should also be reduced or eliminated.