Sarah K asks:
I work in retail, and have all my life. As you know, retail workers are on their feet their entire shift, and my job requires rushing back and forth all day. As the years have gone by, my foot pain has gotten exponentially worse. My symptoms are severe, shooting, stabbing pain in my heels, particularly my right foot (I am right-handed) and the balls of my feet to a lesser extent. Of course my legs ache and are fatigued, and my knees are often in severe pain as well. It takes days for them to return to being pain free, but only if I do almost nothing but sit with my feet elevated. Often it helps to rubber band frozen bags of peas onto the bottoms of my feet, but even after that the pain will keep me awake at night or only allow me to sleep a few hours. I generally wear two sets of inserts and athletic shoes most of the time, and I never go barefoot or without inserts.I have been searching online for orthopedic shoes, and will be ordering some within the next day or two.
Also, about two-three years ago I saw a podiatrist, and she took X-rays and said I did not have heel spurs, but the arches of my feet are unusually high which is causing the pain. I am at my wit’s end and am near having to give up my job due to the physical pain, which would put me in a spot, as I have no college degree or other vocational skills and can only get work in retail or restaurant work- although I am planning on going to vocational school this fall. Any tips at all? Oh, and I take Ibuprofen for pain.
Dr. Levine says:
Thank you for an excellent question. Since your arches are unusually high, and a cavus type foot is not a good shock absorber, I suggest my Pillows For Your Feet arch supports for flat shoes. This would take some of the gravitational stress off your arches upon weight bearing. Additionally, you may wish to try wearing wedges or heels, I suggest a height of 1-2″.
Exercises for the feet, like writing the letters of the alphabet, will help strengthen your arches. Take off your shoes and use your toes to make the motion of writing the letters of the alphabet on the ground. Do A to Z with one foot and then start with the other.
And if pain persists, please see your doctor.