Some common diagnoses associated with foot pain include bunions, hammer toes, tendinitis/tendinosis and foot pronation (flat feet).
With the feet being the first contact with the ground, foot pain causes compensated and antalgic (abnormal) gait that often leads to difficulty and pain not only with walking but in standing. Due to these compensatory patterns and deficiencies, pain leads to a lack of WB through the affected leg, as well as balance issues resulting in ankle, knee, hip, and/or back pain. As a result, the muscles become imbalanced at the foot/ankle and through the entire leg. The muscles will tighten as a protective measure and where there is muscle tightness there is usually a lack of movement at the joints. Although, if the origin of foot pain was caused by trauma, there could be an excess of mobility at the foot/ankle and would require stabilization.
It is important when assessing the foot to observe the foot’s ROM, leg strength, and palpate soft tissue/bony structures, in non-weight bearing and weight bearing. About 80% of walking is performed on one leg at a time so each leg needs to be strong/stable in order for walking to be executed appropriately so gait mechanics need to be evaluated. It may be advantageous to assess footwear or any orthotics that are worn. Treatment may include strengthening, stretching, manual interventions, and corrective exercises to restore stability, mobility, muscular endurance, and functional capacity. Through these efforts, we can decrease the risk of injury, falls, or long-term damage.