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"What can I do about chronic foot pain from an injury?"


I stepped on a nail a few years ago but it still hurt when I walk. What should I do?


In general, injuries such as this one should heal within a few weeks and pain should be gone about the same time. If you are having pain in the same place, but years later, then there are several possibilities. One possibility is that this pain is unrelated to the actual injury.

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After you stuck your foot, you may have walked on it abnormally for some time causing damage to some of the joints in the foot. You also may have had the problem with the foot before, but only began to notice it after the injury. Finally, you may have damaged some nerves in the foot when you stepped on the nail causing abnormal pain signals to be sent. This is the so called neuropathic pain, which is pain that you perceive, but is not the result of current tissue damage. This pain must be treated by special medicines that target neuropathic pain. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can take a detailed history of your injury and perform a thorough exam of your foot. Hopefully your doctor can determine what the origin of your pain is an make a recommended treatment or referral. You may warrant an evaluation by a podiatrist or pain specialist, depending on your doctor's initial evaluation.

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