Does Physiotherapy help my foot pain?

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Written by: Caitlyn Goodfellow, Registered Physiotherapist

Foot pain is common, affecting millions of Canadians every year. Physiotherapy is an essential part of treating foot and ankle pain, and in getting you back to your full physical activities and daily life without pain.

What is a foot physiotherapist?

A foot physiotherapist is a physiotherapist who has focused training and interest in foot and ankle injuries and conditions. Foot physiotherapists have taken extra courses and/or certifications to optimize their knowledge and skills to best treat your foot pain.

How does physiotherapy help foot pain?

  • Education: your foot physiotherapist will help you understand what is causing your foot pain and how it is treated. WHY something is sore is the most important question and needs solving for issues to go away and stay away.
  • Strength and stabilization: your foot physio will provide you with a program of exercises that you can do at home that focus on strengthening the muscles in your foot, ankle and leg that will give your foot better support and stabilization which will help solve your foot pain. This can include muscles at the hip level too as the hip and foot work very closely together.
  • Decreased pain, swelling and stiffness: your physio will use various hands-on techniques (e.g., joint mobilizations and manipulations) and modalities (e.g. ultrasound, thermal and electrical units) to decrease your pain and stiffness. Your physio will also give you flexibility exercises that will help your joint range of motion.
  • Improved function and biomechanics: the structure and biomechanics of your foot and ankle are very complex compared to other body parts. Your foot physio has the focused skills and knowledge to get you back to full function so you can get back to your sports, activities and daily life.
  • Gait analysis: your foot physiotherapist will do an analysis of how you walk and/or run to help to figure out the best approach in fixing your foot pain
  • Shoes and shoe implements: a foot physiotherapist will be able to give you advice about healthy footware, orthotics and other shoe implements that help your foot pain.
  • Prevention: your foot physiotherapist will set you up with strategies to prevent recurrence of your foot pain once it is successfully treated
person holding foot

What are the top 12 conditions treated by a foot physiotherapist?

  • Achilles tendinopathy and tears: common cause of heel pain that can affect many running and jumping physical activities
  • Plantar Fasciitis and heel spurs: common cause of chronic heel pain that can be difficult to solve unless addressed with appropriate treatment
  • Tendonitis: many other forms of tendonitis affect the ankle and foot
  • Ankle Sprains: traumatic twists to the ankle are very common in athletes and non-athletes and can lead to chronic pain or recurrence if not treated appropriately
  • Traumatic fractures: can lead to tightness and weakness that usually can be prevented with foot physiotherapy
  • Stress fractures: micro-cracks in bone from overuse often require a foot physiotherapist’s help to address underlying reasons causing the problem
  • Heel Pain:  there are many causes of heel pain often caused by foot biomechanical problems that a foot physio can assess
  • Bunions: a common cause of large toe pain that can benefit from focused foot and toe exercises, as well as special shoe implements and modifications
  • Ankle and midfoot osteoarthritis: osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that is especially troublesome in the foot
  • Large toe osteoarthritis: the large toe is essential for walking, running and jumping, so a foot physio will help to restore function
  • Morton’s neuroma and other forefoot pain: pain in the ball of your foot can be chronic, and can be helped with special toe bending exercises and shoe implements or other devices
  • Arch pain: there are many causes of arch pain that a foot physio can help with
  • Other persistent pain: when pain is not improving, it suggests there may be multiple variables at play contributing to your soreness. A physiotherapist will help to identify all those variables to better ensure success with moving forward.

Early assessment and treatment of acute injuries is essential for fast healing and early and safe return to sport and activity.

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