The sudden onset of foot pain that persists throughout the day is not normal. It generally means something is inflamed, and if simple ice, rest, and elevation don’t resolve it, you should have your foot checked by your podiatrist.

The most wonderful thing in the human body is our highly sophisticated early warning system. We’re equipped with the most amazing network of sensory nerve fibers that rivals all of your computers and cell phones put together. 

The moment that something isn’t right in your foot, this system instantly communicates to your brain…”PAIN !!!  Stop whatever you’re doing to me, system will be shutting down in ’X’ minutes.”  I know this sounds silly, but assuming you have the ability to feel your feet, your feet are supplied with an incredible density of sensory nerve fibers that can sense touch, pain, temperature, vibration, and position.

.When you get something foreign in your foot like glass, splinter, hair, a piece of wire, or thorn, your body will react to this, first with setting of pain fibers to tell you something isn’t right, and then it will inflame around the object developing fluid and redness within
24 hours. This can lead to infection, or it may just wall itself off and be sore. Either way, the foreign matter must  be removed. If it’s really superficial and you can remove it without digging in with bathroom surgery, you may not need further attention. Clean it with soap and water, hydrogen peroxide, and apply an over the counter like triple antibiotic or Neosporin. Soaking in Epsom salts can also be helpful.

When you overuse your foot because of wearing flip flops too much, suddenly increasing your athletic activities like going on a long hike while on vacation, or too many hours crouched in the garden, your nerve endings around your joints will sense that you have pushed them too far.  Somehow we’re often able to do a lot of a certain activity without pain, until the next day; that’s when our foot starts talking to us. 

What happens here, is that you are exercising and having a lot of blood flow to the area. But once you overuse your tissues and then try to resume activity the next day, they are sending  you a delayed signal that they simply weren’t prepared for this much work. You may simply need to take a day off and ice, rest, and use an over the counter anti-inflammatory medication. You may need to begin a stretching program regularly, and gradually increase your exercise regimen or distance you walk or hike.

Finally, a word to those of you who don’t feel normally because you have Diabetes or have loss of sensation because of a back injury:

You must inspect your feet daily. Studies have shown that redness and temperature will increase over a very localized area, like the ball of the foot, when it is overused.  This will precede the development of an open wound called an ulcer. 

So, for those of you with this problem, you will not get the early warning sign of pain, and must inspect your feet visually; use a mirror on the floor daily or have someone else look at your feet.  If you get off your feet immediately upon noticing the redness, it will gradually fade and you will avoid developing a wound.

In summary, we are blessed with the ability to feel pain. Our sensory nervous system is highly specialized to tell us when we’ve developed an injury or overuse syndrome.  Listen to your body, apply good common sense measures when you do develop a problem, and then if you have increasing pain, redness, or swelling lasting more than 24 hours, get medical attention. 

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