A "SOFT" Approach to Foot Pain

For anyone suffering from foot, heel, or ankle pain, the there’s nothing “soft” about it. In fact, the “hard” truth is that the pain can be so severe as to become debilitating.

However, the acronym “SOFT” (Structure, Over-use, Footwear, Trauma) is a helpful way for patients to understand foot-related pain and some of the things we look at as chiropodists when first diagnosing and treating it.

 1. Structure – Just as no two snowflakes are alike, the same holds true for feet. The reality is that few of us are born with an “ideal” foot, but there is a range of normal in which your feet function most effectively. Structural issues like flat feet, high arches, or other concerns can be increasingly problematic the further they are from this normal range. The result can be pain in the feet, heels, and ankles, and may even affect joints and soft tissue right up to the back, since all of these are connected in what’s known as the gait cycle.

 2. Over-use –The sudden onset of new activities or exercise, heavy physical training, or intensive work-related activity may cause tissues to become inflamed and tender. Over-use injuries are a sign that your body is trying to repair itself and that you need to give it a break. However, ignoring them can result in the pain becoming a more stubborn chronic (long-term) problem, and may even cause structural foot issues such as heel or bone spurs to happen over time.

3. Footwear – Okay, so most of us understand (but may choose to ignore it!) that footwear like high heels or flip flops are less than ideal. However, fewer of us recognize how important it is to match the kind of footwear you choose to your foot type. Not every shoe is suitable to every foot, and your chiropodist can provide unbiased, expert advice on the kind of footwear best suited to your foot either as part of your treatment for pain or to prevent it.

4. Trauma – Traumatic injuries like those experienced in car accidents and other less severe mishaps can have long-term impacts that result in chronic pain. The foot can be structurally disfigured or tissues can be damaged in ways that cause functional impairment – preventing your foot from working as it should. Your chiropodist’s treatment strategy will help to normalize foot function while addressing the pain.