As we make do at home, patiently waiting for the virus to make its exit, we may have noticed our feet hurting more. Why is that?

There are definite foot pain trends that I have noticed during this COVID-19 pandemic. I thought it would be interesting to share as they all have one thing in common: WALKING BAREFOOT!  Many people routinely walk around the house barefoot, just not as often as they have lately! We have never given a second thought that this could be the culprit, but lately I have seen quite a few patients that can trace their foot pain to this! 

Here are my top three:

  1. Ball of foot pain – Also known as metatarsalgia, ball of foot pain is an inflammatory condition around the joints that connect the toes to the main part of the foot. These joints can easily become irritated in certain foot types when there is no cushioning protecting the bottom of the foot, and when the foot is allowed too much movement. When you are barefoot, your foot has to spring unsupported off the floor. If this happens chronically, you can end up with pain to the ball of the foot. While it is not the only reason why we get pain under the ball of foot, walking barefoot sure is an aggravator if you already have it or can start pain you've never had! 
  2. Plantar fasciitis – Another common condition caused by our barefoot walkers is a condition medically known as “plantar fasciitis”. This is the most common cause of heel pain but can also cause pain in the arch of your foot. The plantar fascia is a structure that extends from the heel to the ball of the foot. Its job is to help to hold the arch in place. When you walk around barefoot, there is nothing to support the arch, as an arch support would do in a shoe. Every time we walk or stand around barefoot, our body weight strains the bottom of the foot, straining the plantar fascia ligament, causing pain in the heel, arch, or both!
  3. Fractures – Yes, broken bones! I have seen plenty of broken toes in the past month from unprotected feet!  Our toes seem to find furniture that has been in the same place for years!  Without the protection of footwear, toes can be easily broken.  Rumor has it that you can't do anything for a broken toe. This is far from true. If the fracture is unstable, or if the fracture involves the joint, it really should be treated so it can heal properly. It is not worth getting arthritis in a joint or chronic pain down the road hoping that it heals without a little TLC!

Moral of the story?  Coronavirus quarantine will be a pain in the foot if you don't give your feet a break by supporting them while they are at home.  For the time being, wear something other than your socks! Your feet need some support in the form of good shoes, sandals or slippers that our feet don't have to “work” to keep on - yes, that means something other than flip flops!  If your pain is beyond what a good shoe can relieve, or you suspect a broken bone, then pay a visit to us here at Foot and Ankle Associates of North Texas. We will get your feet through this pandemic so they don't get the best of you!

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