Foot Pain Treatment Guide

Foot pain treatment looks to reduce any pain, inflammation, instability and weakness associated with foot and ankle problem. To be effective, it should address both the cause of the problem e.g. weakness or abnormal foot biomechanics, and the symptoms e.g. pain and swelling.

There are a whole range of foot pain treatment options out there, depending on what is causing your pain. Treatment may include exercises, orthotics, first aid treatment, or specially designed foot products such as toe stretchers.

Here we will look at some of the most effective foot and ankle treatment options including how they work and what situations they are most suitable for. This is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice – always consult your doctor with any incidence of foot pain.

Top 10 Foot Pain Treatments

1)  R.I.C.E.

The popular acronym RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.  This is usually the best first line foot pain treatment option with any new incidence of pain.  It aims to protect the foot from any further injury, as well as reducing pain and inflammation.  When used effectively, it can help reduce the impact of an injury and can help to speed up healing. 

2)  Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening exercises are a vital part of foot pain treatment

Weakness in the foot and calf muscles is a vital part of foot pain treatment for virtually any foot problem.  The muscles need to be able to work effectively together to support the foot and maintain the foot arches as well as controlling how the foot moves.  As well as having good strength, they also need to have good endurance i.e. be able to keep working all day without tiring. 

In the the foot and ankle strengthening section you will find a whole range of exercises to build up the strength and support around your ankle as part of your foot pain treatment.

3) Stretching Exercises

Exercises are a vital part of any foot pain treatment programme.  Approved use

As well as having good strength in the muscles, you also need good flexibility.  Tightness in the foot and calf muscles makes subtle changes to the position of the foot and how forces are transferred up the leg.  Tight muscles make us more prone to injury and pain and can slow down the healing process.

Visit the foot and ankle stretches section to find out how to effectively stretch the different muscles around the foot as part of your foot pain treatment.

4)  Footwear

What we wear on our feet has a big impact on the health of our feet.  Shoes that are too narrow, too tight or without enough support and protection frequently cause foot problems with the bones, muscles, ligaments and nerves.   Shoes should ideally have a wide toe box, cushioned, flat soles and should be supportive but not tight.

If you work in any kind of construction industry, take part in sports or recreational activities, you may also want added features like steel toe or electrical hazard protection.  Visit the Safety Shoe Guide to find out about the safety features available in a whole range of shoe, sneaker and boot style that can help reduce foot pain and injuries.

5) Orthotics

Some people also benefit from foot orthotics which are specially designed inserts to wear in your shoes.  They can be off the shelf or custom made, and are particularly useful if there is a biomechanical problem with the feet such as flat feet from fallen foot arches.  Popular orthotics include heel cups to cushion the heel and shoe inserts to correct abnormal foot position.

You should discuss the use of orthotics with your doctor, physio or an orthotist to find out if you would benefit from orthotics as part of your foot pain treatment and what style would be best.

6)  Medications

Medications are a popular foot pain treatment option

There are a whole range of medications used for the treatment of foot pain.  They may to simple analgesics such as paracetamol/Tylenol that help reduce pain, or anti-inflammatories e.g. ibuprofen/Advil that can help to reduce swelling.  You should always consult your doctor before taking any mediations.

7)  Tubigrip

Tubigrip works well to reduce swelling and provide support as part of a foot pain treatment programme

Tubigrip elasticated bandages are a great, simple way to provide some compression to the foot, ankle and calf to help give support and reduce swelling.  It is easy to apply and cheap to buy.  It can be useful both in the short term after an injury or for longer term conditions. 

To find out more about how tubigrip works, find answers to frequently asked questions about it and how to get the right size, visit the tubigrip section on our sister site.

8)  Ice/Heat

Applying ice and/or heat is one of the old favourite foot pain treatments.  Ice tends to be most beneficial in the first few days following an injury where it helps to reduce inflammation and pain.  Heat is best used for longer term foot problems, helping to reduce pain and boost circulation which can help with healing. 

Ice and heat are a great treatment for foot pain

With Ice Treatment, it is really important that it is applied safely and correctly otherwise it can actually cause more harm than good.  Visit the ice treatment section to find out how to use ice safely and effectively.

For heat treatment, a simple hot water bottle wrapped up or a microwaveable wheat bag work really well.  They should be applied for about twenty minutes at a time.  To avoid the risk of burns, there should always be a layer of material between them and the skin, they should be avoided if the sensation is at all reduced and should be warm rather than hot. 

9)  Acupuncture

Acupuncture can be an effective part of foot and ankle treatment programmes but must also be carried out by a licensed practitioner

Acupuncture can be used as part of a foot pain treatment programme to reduce pain without the need for medication.  It works by the insertion of very small needles into the soft tissues at various places around the body which blocks pain signals from the brain and improving circulation.

Whilst the evidence into the effectiveness of acupuncture is inconclusive at the moment, is a certainly a good option if other things are not working.  It should only ever be carried out by a fully trained and licensed acupuncturist.

10)  Foot Products

There are a number of products that are specially designed for foot pain treatment.  They all work in different ways.  For example, wearing Toe Stretchers helps to correct abnormal foot and toe positions which can help reduce conditions like plantar fasciitis.

What Next?

To get the most out of foot pain treatment, it is really important to understand what is causing your pain in the first place.  Visit the Common Foot Problems section for information on the most common causes of foot pain, or if you want some help working out what is causing your pain, visit the foot pain diagnosis section. 

Go to Foot Pain Guide

Your Comments

Share your foot pain experiences with others, whether it be ideas, top tips, things that worked well for you, problems you've had, questions etc.......

See Also

Diagnose Your Foot Pain

Common Causes of Foot Pain

Foot & Ankle Anatomy

Treatment Options for Foot Problems

Visitor Comments

"Thank you so much! Your website is a fountain of information! I was worrying about top of foot pain, and your suggestions for strengthening and stretching are helping immensely."
Retha, US

"Your info took me straight to the problem. Well described and clearly explained."
Rick, US

"Thanks for having these exercises available! I performed a few and they have helped tremendously with my foot pain."
Jennifer, UK

"Thank you for this information, it is very useful."
Seluleko, Zimbabwe

"Some really good suggestions and information"
Denise, US

"I have suffered these symptoms for over a year seen two doctors and a physio. None of them diagnosed this. Hope its not too late to put your advice into practice." Lezlee, UK

"Certainly it has helped me to understand and educate me on the issue."
Madhuri, India

"Very interesting! All good information. Tried a few stretches, already feels good."
Cindy, US

"3 days ago I thought I was going to need foot surgery. I NEVER thought that stretching my calf would relieve the excruciating pain at the top of my foot. Thank you!!"
Rich, US