Aids for Preventing and Relieving Foot Pain


Amy Rushlow

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Tired and Aching Feet

Tired tootsies? If your dogs are barking, there are simple products that can help you find relief. Consider these aids to keep aches and pains at bay.

Self-Massage Tools

If you’re struggling with heel pain, foot cramps, or strained arches, give yourself a good foot rub, using objects you have at home. Try this golf ball foot massage: While standing or sitting, step on a golf ball and roll it lengthwise along the bottom of the foot for two minutes; repeat on the other foot. 

If a golf ball applies too much pressure, try a tennis ball instead. You can also use a frozen water bottle or cold metal beverage can to ice the foot while you massage it.

Relief for Corns and Bunions

Corns and bunions are both aggravated by pressure from the foot squeezing against too-tight shoes. Foot and toe pads, available in the foot care section of the drugstore, can help relieve mild pain. Be sure to choose plain, nonmedicated pads, since medicated types can irritate the skin. For corns, look for doughnut-shaped foam pads. 

Placing a spacer between your big toe and second toe may help relieve bunions. Toe separators can also ease pain from corns. If the pain persists, talk with your doctor about other treatment options. 

Careful Callus Care

Pressure on the foot can also cause a buildup of skin known as a callus. Many calluses aren’t painful, but some can hurt when you walk.

To remove calluses, soak feet and then file them with a pumice stone or callus file. If you have diabetes, however, don’t try to remove calluses on your own. Instead, ask your doctor about the best way to treat them.

A More Comfortable Shoe

Shoe inserts, called orthotics, can help with many types of foot pain:

  • For flat feet, custom arch inserts can make walking more comfortable.

  • For high arches, custom inserts can improve the position of the foot and provide better shock absorption.

  • For heel spurs, heel pads and cups can treat these bony growths on the feet.

Studies show that orthotics can also relieve heel pain. One study found that a pre-made full-foot insert improved pain during walking better than did heel cups, pads or lifts. 

Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

For mild, everyday foot pain, pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) can ease your pain for short periods of time. Make sure to follow dosage instructions. 

For Everyday Care

Keep these products on hand. Some simple, regular foot care techniques will protect your feet.

  • Bandages and antibiotic cream. Everyone should make a habit of quickly cleaning and covering cuts and wounds. But this is especially important for people with diabetes because they’re at higher risk for foot infections.

  • Lotion. Dry skin can make your feet itch or burn. Use lotion or cream on your feet every day.

  • Toenail clippers. Cut toenails straight across using clippers made especially for toes—not fingernail clippers. This helps prevent ingrown toenails, which occur when a piece of nail grows into the skin. Ingrown toenails can be painful when you wear tight shoes.


Which Pain Medicine Is Right For You?

Not all pain medicines are the same. Use this Pain Investigator to find out which medicines are right for you.
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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Mar 17, 2017

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Medical References

  1. Adult foot health. American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society.
  2. All toes on deck: tips for protecting feet from the heat. American Podiatric Medical Association.
  3. Bonanno DR, Landorf KB, Menz HB. Pressure-relieving properties of various shoe inserts in older people with plantar heel pain. Gait & Posture. 2011;33(3):385-389.
  4. Corns and calluses. American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society.
  5. Diabetic wound care. American Podiatric Medical Association.
  6. Flat feet and high arches. American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society.
  7. Foot care. National Institute on Aging.
  8. How to keep your feet flexible. American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society.
  9. Metatarsalgia (forefoot pain). American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society.
  10. Orthotics. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
  11. Self-treatment of heel pain. USA Triathlon.
  12. Tight shoes and foot problems. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
  13. Understanding and alleviating plantar fasciitis. American Council on Exercise.

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