Podiatry
 
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Foot Pain and Problems

 

Anatomy of the foot

The foot is one of the most complex parts of the body. It is made up of 26 bones connected by many joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The foot is susceptible to many stresses. Foot problems can cause pain, inflammation, or injury. These problems can result in limited movement and mobility. 

What are the different types of foot problems?

Foot pain is often caused by improper foot function. Poorly fitting shoes can worsen and, in some cases, cause foot problems. Shoes that fit properly and give good support can prevent irritation to the foot joints and skin. There are many types of foot problems that affect the heels, toes, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and joints of the foot.

The symptoms of foot problems may look like other medical conditions and problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

What is foot pain?

Foot pain can be debilitating to an active lifestyle. Foot pain can have many sources, from fractures and sprains to nerve damage. Listed below are 3 common areas of pain in the foot and their causes:

Pain in the ball of the foot. Pain in the ball of the foot, located on the bottom of the foot behind the toes, may be caused by nerve or joint damage in that area. In addition, a benign (noncancerous) growth, such as Morton's neuroma, may cause the pain. Corticosteroid injections and wearing supportive shoe inserts may help relieve the pain. Sometimes, surgery is needed.

Plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is characterized by severe pain in the heel of the foot, especially when standing up after resting. The condition is due to an overuse injury of the sole surface (plantar) of the foot and results in inflammation of the fascia, a tough, fibrous band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the base of the toes.

Plantar fasciitis is more common in women, people who are overweight, people with occupations that require a lot of walking or standing on hard surfaces, people with flat feet, and people with high arches. Walking or running, especially with tight calf muscles, may also cause the condition.

Treatment may include:

  • Rest
  • Ice pack applications
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Stretching exercises of the Achilles tendons and plantar fascia

Achilles tendon injury. The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the human body. It connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. However, this tendon is also the most common site of rupture or tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendon due to overuse.

Achilles tendonitis is caused by overuse of the tendon and calf muscles. Symptoms may include mild pain after exercise that worsens gradually, stiffness that disappears after the tendon warms up, and swelling.

Treatment may include:

  • Rest
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine
  • Supportive devices and/or bandages for the muscle and tendon
  • Stretching
  • Massage
  • Ultrasound
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Surgery

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