Patients may be referred to Blackrock Health with foot pain due to a wide range of possible causes. This could range from everyday aches and strains to more serious medical issues. A diagnosis for foot pain should start with a medical history and a physical exam. After the initial evaluation, imaging tests such as X-rays or an MRI may also be ordered if necessary. Treatment for foot pain will depend on the underlying cause. These may include rest, NSAID medications, physiotherapy, orthotics, and potentially surgery, if appropriate.
Blackrock Health is home to some of the most established private orthopaedic faculties in Ireland. We can carry out minimally invasive surgeries in hi-tech facilities across all our hospitals. We offer comprehensive musculoskeletal care, with dedicated inpatient orthopaedic and spinal wards. If you have day-case surgery, our team will care for you on our comfortable day wards.
We offer the full range of orthopaedics, including consultation, diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare. Our orthopaedic consultants are internationally recognised and conduct thousands of procedures every year. Our hospitals have expert multi-disciplinary teams - including clinical nurse specialists and physiotherapists. And we use the latest technology, from robot surgery to spinal navigation techniques and real-time imaging.
Blackrock Clinic is also one of the first private hospitals in Ireland to use the Irish National Orthopaedic Register (INOR). This is a national database informing on orthopaedic surgeries and outcomes in Ireland. [LINK]. The aim of this register is to improve patient outcomes. Both the Hermitage Clinic and Galway Clinic are expected to enrol with INOR in 2023.
You can access our services easily with a referral from your GP and can then enjoy world-class clinical care and comfort. Over 75% of our rooms are single occupancy - to help you make a quicker recovery in a safe environment. We aim to provide you with best possible outcome, and to restore your quality of life.
Potential Causes and Treatment Paths
Foot pain can affect anybody and is often caused by poor bone alignment and poor foot function, resulting most commonly from:
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the thick tissue on the sole of the foot, that connects the heel bone to the toes. It often causes a sharp, stabbing pain in the heel or arch of the foot, especially when first standing up after rest.
Heel spurs are tiny calcium deposits that form on the underside of the heel bone, oftentimes due to plantar fasciitis. This can lead to intense pain when standing or walking and make even everyday activities difficult.
This is an inflammation or irritation of the Achilles tendon, which connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. Symptoms include stiffness and soreness in one or both heels. It may also cause pain when running or jumping, and such activities often cause or worsen this condition.
Stress fractures occur when an activity causes repeated pressure on a single area of weight-bearing bones in the foot. This can then lead to a crack in one of those bones. A stress fracture causes localised pain along with tenderness and swelling.
A bunion is a painful bony growth at the base of your big toe. It is caused by prolonged misalignment of the joint under normal activity such as walking and running. It is often accompanied by various levels of redness, swelling and pressure on other parts of your feet. It may also cause foot blisters - on the bottom and side of the foot - if left untreated for a long period.
Arthritis is a common cause of foot pain. It typically causes stiffness and swelling around smaller joints. In the foot, these can be found in the toes, or in the ball and arch of the foot in your metatarsal bones.
We offer foot and ankle treatment paths for patients via our orthopaedics department. We also offer physiotherapy, bio-mechanical assessment for feet and an orthotics service.
Our radiology departments can perform a wide range of imaging tests. These can help diagnose your foot pain, and determine the best course of treatment. Our imaging services include:
X-rays are frequently used to diagnose foot pain as they can help to identify bone injuries or abnormalities.
Ultrasound might be used when a doctor suspects that the source of a patient’s foot pain is related to soft tissue structures within the feet. These include tendons, muscles and ligaments. Ultrasound is also used to pinpoint areas which may benefit from steroid injection treatment.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
An MRI helps to provide an in-depth view of the bones, tendons and nerves within the feet. This may be useful when a doctor needs to identify a more exact cause of heel or arch pain.
CT Scan (Computed Tomography)
A CT scan can provide detailed images of bones and joints within the feet. This can help medical professionals determine if any fractures or other bone abnormalities are present in the feet or ankles. This then allows for more accurate diagnosis and treatment decisions.
A bone scan is typically used if there is suspicion that osteoarthritis is causing foot pain. This scans shows where calcium deposits have formed in the bones due to wear and tear. This can indicate this type of arthritis has occurred within one's joints. Bone scans can also be used to identify bone infection.
Foot Biomechanical Assessment
(Available at Blackrock Clinic only)
A Foot Biomechanical Assessment is an assessment of the structure and function of the feet. We use this to identify any underlying biomechanical issues that can cause pain, deformity or disability. The assessment is designed to analyse how the foot functions. We look at balance, gait mechanics and range of motion, as well as assessing for any structural issues that may be contributing to pain or discomfort.
During a Foot Biomechanical Assessment, a patient will typically be asked to walk back and forth across the examination room . This allows us to observe your gait. Our physiotherapist will then assess your biomechanics while you are walking. We'll look at factors such as changes in pressure on certain areas of the foot and pronation or supination patterns. We'll also look at weight distribution when standing still, and your ability to complete heel-to-toe walking. We will also palpate key areas of the foot to feel for any tenderness or structural issues like bunions or hammertoes. Finally, we may request some imaging to help diagnose specific issues with gait mechanics or the position of bones and joints.
In general, you can expect a comprehensive examination that covers all aspects of foot biomechanics. The assessment should help identify any underlying abnormalities that can cause pain. More helpfully, we aim to provide direction on how best to manage pain with exercises, stretching routines or orthotics.
(Available at Blackrock Clinic & Hermitage Clinic only)
Orthotics are insoles prescribed to correct the biomechanics of the foot and any associated symptoms. Correctly fitted orthotics aim to reduce stress through the joints and muscles. They will also optimise the patient’s posture and overall back function. Orthotics can vary from simple arch supports to customised insoles. Our physiotherapists decide if a patient needs these after completing a full biomechanical assessment.
An orthotic evaluation includes:
- A detailed history
- Analysis of how the patient’s feet affect posture and movement
- If recommended, a gait scan
Following your evaluation, custom made orthotics can be ready within two weeks.
In some instances a patient may need another 30-minute appointment. This may be necessary if the orthotics need to be further adapted to the patient’s specific needs.
It is advisable to break-in orthotics over a 4 – 6 week period after which the physiotherapist will review progress.
Some foot problems will not respond to conservative measures, and may require surgery. Our expert Foot & Ankle surgeons regularly carry out foot surgery with the aim of improving issues that need more intervention. These include achilles tendon repair, bunion surgery, hammer toe surgery and bone fusion (arthrodesis).
How do I get this?
If you are awaiting a diagnosis from your GP, you may need a referral letter before you make an appointment. If you are referring for a physiotherapy consultation, you can contact us directly. Please see our Request Appointment Form here.
Is this insured?
Not all services are covered by health insurance. To find out if you're covered, please check your health insurance before your visit. You can do this on our health insurance Cover Check page here, or by contacting your health insurer.
How do I pay?
If you do not have health insurance or your health plan does not cover the full cost, you will need to pay the balance due before your treatment or procedure. You may be able to claim back some fees on your insurance. To pay an excess not covered by your insurance or any other inpatient fees, please visit our payment page here. If you have any queries about paying for your care, please contact the finance team in your hospital.