The foot is composed of 26 bones, 33 joints, along with muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The foot’s complexity, and its role in bearing the weight of the body, can lead to various painful conditions and injuries.
Foot pain, and associated symptoms such as inflammation and limited mobility, may be caused by:
- Traumatic injuries
- Overuse injuries (develops over time)
- Genetic or acquired deformities
- Muscle imbalances
- Poor training form
- Systemic diseases (i.e., diabetes or arthritis, ill-fitting shoes, obesity, or infections)
Where Can Foot Pain Occur?
Foot pain can be generally categorized by where it occurs: the toes, the arch, the heel, or the ball of the foot.
Toe pain can be the result of fractures, ingrown or fungal toenails, corns and calluses, diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage), arthritis, and acquired deformities such as hammertoes and bunions.
Arch pain can be caused by an injury, flat feet, high arches, plantar fasciitis, weight gain, aging, or overuse. It can also be the result of gait abnormalities such as overpronation—where the foot rolls excessively inward causing undue pressure on the arch.
Heel pain is usually attributed to plantar fasciitis, but may also be due to Achilles tendinitis, heel bursitis, Sever’s disease, heel spurs, obesity, poorly fitting shoes, heel pad atrophy, stress fractures or contusions, or arthritis.
Ball of the foot pain occurs in the padding underneath the toes. It can be due to metatarsalgia, metatarsal joint pain, arthritis, plantar warts, stress fractures, obesity, or conditions such as Morton’s neuroma, Freiberg’s disease, or sesamoiditis.
It is important to note that foot pain is not normal, and it should not be ignored. Most conditions that cause foot pain can be treated simply and conservatively, especially when diagnosed and treated early on.
What Podiatrists Can Do for Foot Pain
A podiatrist is a physician that specializes in foot and ankle health. Many are podiatric surgeons as well. Podiatrists are experts at getting to the root cause of foot pain and creating a treatment plan to take care of the condition effectively and promptly.
They can also offer professional advice and tools to help avoid foot pain by:
- Prescribing custom orthotic devices
- Recommending appropriate footwear
- Sharing tips on proper training techniques
- Providing basic care suggestions for maintaining healthy feet.
If you have any foot pain, discomfort, swelling, or decreased immobility, see a podiatrist right away to have your condition diagnosed and treated properly.