Lindsey Ebbs Podiatry - Podiatry Insights

Acute and Chronic pain in the feet... What's the difference?

Pain is pain, right?

Sadly not, pain is a complicated subject but simply put, it can be separated into two categories; Acute and Chronic pain. There is one noticeable difference between the two and that is the amount of time that the pain has been around?

Let’s look at acute pain first as it probably the one that most people can easily identify with?

Acute pain

This is pain that actually happens to you, it could be due to a surgery a replacement joint or an injury caused by a sporting accident like a fracture, sprain, strain or a tear another could be a burn maybe caused from a hot stove.

All these situations are recognisable causes of pain and serve as a protection mechanism.

The duration of these acute pain problems is usually LESS than three months and should resolve within that time frame, when the tissues have healed.

The psychological impact is short lived and can often present as anxiety or sleeplessness which improves over time as the problem starts to improve.

Conditions that present in the feet that are examples of acute pain;

  • Fractures, blisters, ankle sprains, corns, verrucae, capsulitis, ingrown toenails, Achilles’ tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, bruised fat pad, foreign bodies, bacterial infections

Treatment for acute conditions affecting the feet;

  • Laser is fantastic at accelerating the healing process for wounds, fractures, strains and sprains caused by injuries including reducing the pain levels associated with acute conditions. - Marco the M6 MLS Robotic Laser | Lindsey Ebbs Podiatry
  • Rest, ice, compression and elevation of the affected areas.
  • Nsaid medication like Ibuprofen to reduce the inflammation associated with acute injuries
  • Antibiotic prescription for painful infected in growing toenails.
  • Prescribed exercise programme can help reduce the pain levels by encouraging the blood flow to the tissues and accelerating the healing process.

Chronic Pain

This is pain that happens in you, the cause is not often known, the length of time it persists, is FROM three months onwards. Its presentation can be continual and reoccurring and serves no actual purpose as it ceases to be a protective function for the body. Pain after 3 months is an early warning that is not just from an injury.

Strangely, the severity of the pain does not correlate with the damage that may have occurred if it was originally caused by an acute injury, a false alarm if you like?

The phycological effect of chronic pain can be depression, anger, fear and social withdrawal.

It is a very complex condition which makes it more difficult to treat from a practitioner’s point of view as it can be resistant to a lot of the treatments that alleviate normal pain in an acute stage.

Conditions that present in the feet that would be examples of chronic pain are;

  • Plantar fasciopathy, Achilles’ tendinopathy, nerve entrapment from the back but presenting in the feet, diabetic or alcohol related neuropathy, Morton’s neuroma, osteoarthritis, bone cancer or bursitis. Muscle /ligament injuries that haven’t gone away after 3 months

Treatments for the chronic conditions affecting the feet

  • I cannot stress how important it is to diagnose what the problem is in the first place, then a treatment plan can be implemented accordingly. Diagnostics play a huge part in this, for eg, an X-ray would indicate any cancerous tumours, bone spurs /growths or osteo arthritis. Blood tests can reveal any systemic inflammatory conditions like Rheumatoid arthritis or underlying conditions like a Vit B12 deficiency. Nerve conductive tests indicate where the nerves may be entrapped. MRI ‘s show with incredible clarity any soft tissue damage and a Ultrasound scan is readily available for initial investigations into any of the soft tissue structures that may need a referral for further in-depth diagnostics.
  • Any condition with long term pain needs to be investigated as there are treatments that can be carried out but a diagnosis of the problem is an important start to the process
  • Our clinic uses ESWT which is shockwave treatment for chronic Plantar fasciopathy and Achilles’ tendinopathy. This treatment mechanically stimulates the affected tissues into an acute stage again, triggering the blood flow to area, kick starting the healing process. It is really not as bad as it sounds! - What is shockwave therapy and will it work for me? | Lindsey Ebbs Podiatry
  • Marco the robotic laser can also have this affect too and in reducing pain, which is a bonus!
  • Fascial Manipulation is probably the least known about treatment but it has such an impressive result on the tissues that have gone into a guarding mode and have forgotten to switch off. A process that should have happed when the tissues had healed. The manipulation relaxes the restricted fascia, allowing movement of the lower limb and reducing pain. - Fascial manipulation of the lower limb. (Stecco Method®) | Lindsey Ebbs Podiatry
  • Nail surgery for those in- growing toe nails that can no longer be treated conservatively due to the surrounding skin to the nail has gone into an irreversible chronic stage, leaving I unable to heal by itself. - Ingrowing toenails and how to get rid of them permanently | Lindsey Ebbs Podiatry

Podiatrists are really good at dealing with feet, it is what we are trained for!

We can often identify the problem, treat it or refer for diagnostics and suggest the best treatment options available from other medical practitioners.

If you are not sure what pain you have then let’s make an appointment for you on 01947 820 319.

The Foothub Whitby
3, Byland Road
YO21 1JH

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