Foot Pain and Problems
Your foot is an amazing, intricate structure of bones, muscles, tendons, nerves and ligaments that work together to keep you on the move. Because they support your body weight on a daily basis, they are susceptible to injury; that’s why foot pain is so common and can affect any part of your foot.
If you have significant foot pain, see a doctor. The toolkit used to diagnose your foot problem may include:
- Exploration of your medical history
- Physical exam
- Diagnostic imaging including X-ray, computerized tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Anatomy of the Foot
Your foot can be viewed as three segments: the forefoot, the midfoot, and the hindfoot—each with its own set of bones working together alongside connective tissue, muscle, and nerves.
What Are Some Foot Pain Causes?
Because the foot joints are so intricate, the foot is prone to pain from a range of different conditions most of which respond well to treatment.
Foot problems can negatively affect the nerves, tendons, ligaments, and joints of the foot, toes, and heel. Frequently, improper foot function is the cause of our pain; a big culprit is poorly fitted shoes. Shoes that are fitted properly can actually provide support to the foot while averting irritation to foot joints and skin. The symptoms of foot problems may resemble other medical conditions and problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
Conditions that can cause foot pain include:
- Bone/heel spurs
- Cavus foot
- Compartment syndrome
- Haglund’s syndrome
- Hallux Rigidus (Stiff Big Toe)
- Hammertoe, claw toe, and mallet toe
- Morton’s neuroma
- Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Neuropathy (diabetic/peripheral)
- Osteomyelitis (bone infection)
- Paget’s disease of bone
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome
- Tendinitis or tendon rupture
Common Sites of Foot Pain
If you are accustomed to leading an active lifestyle, foot pain can be debilitating. It can have many sources, including those listed below:
- Pain in the ball of the foot may be caused by nerve or joint damage in that area or a benign growth, like Morton’s neuroma.
- Pain in the Achilles (the back of the heel) is common and can be attributed to rupture or tendonitis—an overuse injury that also can cause swelling or stiffness.
- Severe pain in the heel of the foot can be caused by plantar fasciitis, an inflammation from overuse of the fascia connective tissue in the sole of the foot.
Depending on your diagnosis, you may be prescribed short-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) by themselves or in conjunction with additional treatment methods.
Potential additional treatments include:
- Cold packs
- Foot orthotics to correct biomechanics, provide stability, and preventing injury
- Stretching exercises before activity
- Physical therapy to strengthen foot muscles and alleviate pain from alignment and other issues
- Corticosteroid injections