In collaboration with Keck School of Medicine

New Injection Techniques for Treating Chronic Foot Pain

Pain Doctor Injecting a Patient's Foot Who Suffers from Chronic Foot Pain

This article was originally published on Confronting Chronic Pain by Dr. Steven Richeimer, Director Pain Medicine Master and Certificate.

There is a good chance that everyone knows someone who suffers from ongoing foot pain.  Millions of people have chronic foot pain, making it difficult for them to enjoy their daily activities.

While the source of the chronic foot pain may vary, each of those with it want relief and to be able to walk and move about free of pain.  Researchers continue to study ways to help bring pain relief without having to turn to surgery.

New study published in the February 2020 issue of the Pain and Therapy journal

Many people who have chronic foot pain end up having surgery to help address the issue.  The problem with this is that surgery can be costly, and it is only somewhat effective.  Alleviating the pain by injections, depending on the source of the foot pain.  The new study focused on the various injection techniques that are used for addressing chronic pain, and how effective they are. [1]

Researchers conducted the study of injection techniques for chronic foot pain by conducting a comprehensive literature review on the topic.  They report that in the over-50 population, foot and ankle pain affect around 20% of the population, significantly impairing their mobility and making it difficult for the people to engage in their daily living activities.  In addition to that, chronic foot and ankle pain increase one’s risk of falling, which is another health concern.

Related Reading: Non-Pharmacological Interventions to Help Older People with Chronic Pain

Injection therapy used for chronic foot pain has various options.  The study analyzed injections for Morton’s neuroma, which is thickening of the nerve tissue between the toes. Gained from a short-lived benefit they found was:

  • Injections of steroid
  • Alcohol
  • Capsaicin

Derived from hyaluronic acid injections was a long-term benefit.  Plantar fasciitis had short-term relief from prolotherapy.  A person would likely find relief from steroid injections when the chronic foot pain is from inflammation, such as from osteoarthritis or gout.  Researchers advised that tarsal tunnel syndrome can lead to permanent neural injury if left untreated, and injections can be a bridge to obtaining surgery.

Injections provide an effective alternative concluded by researchers.  Injections are much more cost-effective than surgery is.  Plus, there is some evidence that they may be effective at providing at least short-term benefits.  However, at this time the benefits are largely limited to being short term, so alternative treatments need to be considered for those who are seeking long-term chronic foot pain relief.

According to the National Institutes of Health, chronic foot pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, including aging, being overweight, spending long periods of time on your feet, deformities, injuries, poorly fitted shoes, trauma, overuse, arthritis, gout, fallen arches, plantar fasciitis, nerve damage from diabetes, and more.

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[1] Pain and Therapy. Injection Techniques for Common Chronic Pain Conditions of the Foot: A Comprehensive Review. February 2020.

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