Common Causes of Foot Pain
Tired of foot pain but lacking the motivation to see your doctor about it? Knowing the common causes of foot pain can help you deduce what may be ailing you, and give you the knowledge to seek medical treatment. Oftentimes, foot pain can be addressed without surgical intervention, which is especially important as you get older. Check out these common causes of foot pain:
Hammer toe is an abnormal bend in the middle joint of a toe, typically occurring in your second and third toes. It can result in a downward facing top joint that rubs on the bottom of your footwear. The connective tissues that hold your toe straight may be imbalanced due to improper fitting footwear, foot structure, certain disease, or injury/trauma.
When your big toe pushes up against the toe beside it, it may cause a protrusive bony bump at its bottom joint, causing it to stick out and become irritated or painful. Foot structure, stressful joint conditions like arthritis, and especially wearing narrow shoes, like high heels, long term can cause bunions to develop.
When the plantar fascia, connective tissue running along the bottom of your foot from your heel to your toes, becomes strained or experiences tiny little tears, painful inflammation and heel discomfort will occur. Plantar fasciitis can result from poor arch support and improper pronation when walking or running.
Bad fitting shoes, overuse, foot deformities, or regular jumping and running can result in pain targeted to the ball of the foot where your metatarsals connect with your forefoot.
When the corner or side of a toenail actually starts to grow into the soft tissue surround it, you get an ingrown toenail. While red, inflamed and painful at first, it can also become infected and even more swollen. Ingrown toenails typically happen to nails on the big toe and can worsen when you have a condition that limits blood circulation to your feet, like diabetes.
Dry cracked skin that is irritated by friction with a sock or shoe can result in pain and infection. As you age, you can actually lose feeling in your feet and may be less likely to care for them with regular washing, drying, and moisturizing. Dry feet can flake, peel and cause skin infections, especially when you wear improper fitting shoes that rub and cause blisters.
The general inflammation of one or more joints in your foot may be diagnosed as arthritis. 1 in 5 adults over 18 experiences doctor-diagnosed arthritis in the U.S. In addition to swelling, you may experience stiffness, pain, and trouble walking with arthritis of the foot.
Often a result of degenerative arthritis or tendinitis inflammation, bone spurs in the feet are the growth of a bony prominence on an existing bone. If the bone pinches or presses on existing tissues, pain and inflammation can occur. And if the bone sticks out enough to rub on footwear, skin irritation and breakdown may happen as well.
When the Achilles tendon, running down your calf to your heel, becomes inflamed or experiences tearing or straining, you’ll feel mild to intense calf and/or heel pain when walking or running. Typically caused by old running shoes, improper arch support, increased intensity with running, or simple overuse, achilles tendinitis may also occur in older people because of the general weakening of connective tendons.
Common in the weight-bearing bones of your ankles and feet, stress fractures are tiny cracks in bones that are usually detected with imaging testing (i.e. x-ray). While repetitive force, from running for example, can cause stress fractures in the lower extremities, a loss in bone density with age can also make you more susceptible. Symptoms might include tenderness, swelling, pain, and bruising.
Corns and calluses usually develop from a repeated rubbing and friction of the skin on footwear – bad fitting shoes, not wearing socks, and existing deformities like bunions or hammertoes can lead to their development. Corns will have a hard center surrounded by tender and inflamed skin, and are usually found between, or on the tops or sides of toes. Calluses will look more like a raised, thick and rough patch of skin, and are usually found on the ball or heel of the foot.
Depending on the condition, your doctor may have noninvasive treatment options to help provide pain relief to your feet. For example, strap on arch support and other orthotic inserts and wearable cushions can aid foot pain associated with Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and metatarsalgia. Proper foot care, including washing, drying, and moisturizing feet as well as cutting nails back regularly, can help prevent foot sores and ingrown toenails. And avoiding heels and wearing proper fitting shoes is probably the most important thing you can do to prevent corns, calluses, bunions, and hammertoes.
With a quarter of all the bones in your body in your foot, in addition to 8,000 nerves, feet make up a hugely important component of your day to day functioning. Don’t let foot pain sideline you from doing the things you love. Know the signs of common foot problems and talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have – simple, effective treatments may be just the relief you are looking for.