Do your feet hurt?
One of the most popular posts on our Facebook page is an image of aching feet stating:
Fibromyalgia also attacks the feet causing pain and inflammation making walking and standing very difficult.
Sometimes the extent of the pain is so overwhelming that wearing shoes is extremely painful.
Seeing this insight made me wonder about the link between fibromyalgia and foot pain. Several studies seem to confirm there is indeed a link.
- Ginevra Liptan proposes that “inflammation of the fascia is the source of peripheral nociceptive input that leads to central sensitization in fibromyalgia.”
- Fascia is a highly sensitive, thin layer of connective tissue that holds all our body parts (organs, nerves, muscles) in place. Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain, and it’s that fascia across the bottom of our foot connecting our heel bone to our toes where the inflammation – and resulting pain – occur.
- Myofascial pain syndrome, characterized by those small, hard knots where it feels like a muscle has pretzeled itself – also called trigger points – is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia or occurs along with fibro. Again, it’s all about the fascia, so Dr. Liptan’s proposition makes sense and may be corroborated in the 2016 study by Maria Tornero-Caballero and colleagues, in which they found foot pain to be present in more than 60% of the patients surveyed.
- Patricia Palomo-Lopez and her colleagues concluded that “Impaired foot and general health-related quality of life was observed in women who suffered from fibromyalgia compared to healthy matched women,” in their 2019 study. They recommend paying more attention to “foot-specific health-related quality of life in women with fibromyalgia.”
- A 2011 study published in Arthritis Research & Therapy found that nearly half of the 202 patients with fibromyalgia in their study had pain in their feet.
Hmm. Who wonders about so many of these studies being led by women?
So many things can cause our feet to hurt, from our shoes to our activity (or lack thereof) to injuries and more. Having fibromyalgia does not mean that your pain will be only in your feet (if only) nor does having foot pain mean you have fibromyalgia. But with fibro, there’s so much pain anyway, figuring out if something else is causing the pain is a good idea.
In fact, any new pain or symptom should be clearly evaluated
rather than just assuming it’s another fibro complication.
The foot is made up of 26 bones connected by joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments – and fascia – and our feet bear all of our weight when we’re standing and walking. Common foot pain issues include plantar fasciitis, bone spurs, bunions, and fractures (ouch, I stubbed my big toe on the table leg again!). Diabetes can affect the blood flow to the lower extremities, which can lead to neuropathy. Many of these conditions can be addressed with medication, surgery, and lifestyle changes. Check with your doctor to see if there is an underlying cause to your foot pain.
The pain in our feet with fibromyalgia, however, may be more difficult to assess and to treat. So, what can you do? Here is a list of suggestions.
- Wear the right shoes – if at all possible, choose comfort over beauty.
- Ladies, if you feel that you must wear heels, keep them as low as you can. A one-inch heel can be every bit as attractive as that stiletto. (Well, maybe not, but you will pay for the stilettos later.)
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Be as active as you can, especially out in nature.
- Soak your feet. A warm soaking solution with Epsom salts does wonders.
- Alternate ice and heat on your feet.
- Stretch and massage your feet. If you can afford it and a practitioner is available in your area, try reflexology.
- Acupuncture was amazing for me.
Let us know in the comments below if foot pain is an issue for you and what you’ve done to relieve it.
Cindy Leyland is a struggling perfectionist whose superpower is bringing calm to chaos. Her daytime (and sometimes nighttime) hours are spent working as the Vice President of Operations and Fund Development at the Center for Practical Bioethics, whose mission is to raise and respond to ethical issues in health and healthcare. She serves as a Board Member for The Pain Community and LivingLove International, both of which share her life missions of passion, compassion and peace. She’s the spoiled wife of Dave and a grateful mom, stepmom, mom-in-law and Grandma.