Many people experience foot pain on a regular basis. Some have tried buying expensive shoes and expensive orthotics, foot physical therapy, special massage, procedures such as connective tissue “stripping” and even more extreme forms of surgery. After X-rays are taken of the ailing feet, patients are often told that the cause of their misery is bone spurs, usually protruding from their heels.

Sometimes, one or more of the aforementioned remedies are helpful, and a person’s foot pain is reduced or removed entirely. Other people cannot seem to find relief. I have a few tips and tidbits for those of you whose feet cannot seem to find a happy place.

1. Nothing in your body happens all by itself. A foot problem is rarely just a foot problem. Often, misalignments of the knee, hip, low back, or even all the way up to the neck are the original culprit. Skeletal misalignments change your walking gait, eventually manifesting in foot pain. Something as simple as carrying a heavy messenger bag or purse on one shoulder can throw off your body’s natural movement. The solution? Lighten up on the purse or bag, switch shoulders often and, of course, get a chiropractic adjustment. Putting your body back in line will take damaging pressure off your feet.

2. Proper shoes are important. If you have feet that ache, stab and burn throughout the day, take a look at your shoes. Are you wearing cushy foam shoes (like the popular Croc), flip-flops or other non-supportive shoes? Throw them away. House shoes and slippers have a place: at home. Even if you think a pair of shoes feels great because they are so soft, you are doing more damage to your feet, knees and spine by wearing them because they offer no support. There are any number of great shoe designs available that support your arches, ankles, knees, etc. Take the time to visit a good shoe store and ask the associate what they can offer for your specific foot problem.

3. Bone spurs are rarely the problem; they are merely a symptom. The human body is so efficient and amazing that when it senses a weakened area, it deposits more calcium there to strengthen it. So when the connective tissue on the bottom of your foot (known as plantar fascia) is under attack from improper shoes, misaligned joints or lack of healthy exercise, you may experience plantar fasciitis. This term means that the connective tissue on the bottom of your foot is swollen and painful. It is a fancy Latin term to tell you what you already know: your foot hurts. When this happens, your body may put more bone material in this connective tissue, attempting to strengthen what your body perceives as a weak spot.

4. Finally, exercise. Even though it is painful, gentle walking is necessary for your feet to heal. Once you have invested in good shoes and realigned your knees and spine, walking will help your body and feet rebalance. It takes years of abuse for foot symptoms to show up, and it will take many weeks or months for them to subside, once you are on the right path.