Our feet keep us moving, so when our feet hurt, it affects us right away.
Our feet are complex structures, with 26 bones, 33 joints, and dozens of tendons, and ligaments – so, not surprisingly, there are a large number of different causes of foot pain. What follows are some of the most common causes.
Foot Pain Caused by Tight or Badly Constructed Shoes
This one thing causes a lot of foot pain. Improper shoe selection can affect both men and women, but women suffer pain more often because they wear pointy, high-heeled shoes. Among other problems, ill-fitting or inappropriate footwear can cause:
- Bunions, which are painful, bony lumps that form at the base of your big toes. Bunions typically form because pointy, high-heeled shoes shift weight onto the front of the foot.
- Painful blisters and sores can be blamed on too tight or stiff shoes. Shoes that don’t give your toes enough room to wiggle freely cause numbness, and pins and needles.
- Swollen feet that occur after a long day standing on restrictive, ill-fitting shoes are painful, too.
Overuse and Inflammation
Our feet get a lot of use and take a lot of abuse. Depending on how physically active you are, your weight, age, and medical conditions can all increase stress on your ligaments and tendons and cause considerable pain.
Some common types of ligament and tendon strains include:
- Plantar Fasciitis. This common condition results in heel pain and pain at the bottom of your foot. It occurs when the connective tissue between your toes and heel becomes inflamed. The pain can be debilitating and patients describe it as stabbing. Wearing unsupportive shoes and being overweight increases your risk for plantar fasciitis. Runners tend to suffer from plantar fasciitis more often than nonrunners.
- Achilles Tendonitis. Our Achilles tendon runs down the calf to the back of the foot, attaching at the heel. Overuse and bone spurs that rub against the tendon can lead to inflammation and pain.
- Arthritis. Over time, our joints stiffen due to wear and tear, which can lead to osteoarthritis. Inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis can lead to swollen and painful joints earlier in age, too. Both these conditions can cause ankle and foot pain.
- Morton’s Syndrome. This condition causes pain in the ball of your foot and occurs because of an inflammation of a nerve in that area. Women suffer pain caused by Morton’s syndrome more often than men, and it is thought that high-heeled shoes are to blame in some cases.
Fractures and Strains Caused by Injury
Fractures and joint sprains can be caused by injury and are more likely to occur with certain existing medical conditions or environmental factors, such as wearing shoes without adequate grip in the treads.
Some of the most common types of foot injuries include:
- Ankle Sprains or Strains. Stepping off a curb can cause a sudden ankle sprain. A bad strain or sprain injury can weaken your ankle and make repeat injury more likely. Rest, icing and elevating your leg can relieve the burning pain caused by ankle sprains.
- Metatarsal Stress Fractures. These are small breaks that happen in the middle section of your foot. These long bones that run the length of your mid-foot can break or fracture due to an injury (trauma) or long-term stress and overuse. The pain associated with this type of trauma will keep you off of your feet for between 3 – 12 weeks. You doctor may provide a supportive boot to protect your foot as it heals.
- Turf Toe. Turf toe can occur when you repeatedly jam your toe against an object, often a soccer ball, or the turf, if you miss a kick, and it can cause considerable pain in the affected big toe. Runners who push off forcefully at the start of a race are also more likely to suffer pain from turf toe. Physical therapy and rest are needed to reduce the resulting inflammation and pain.
If you are one of the over 24 percent of Americans living with a foot ailment or pain, as reported by US National Health Interview Survey, we can help. Intercoastal Medical Group is a multispecialty practice specializing in primary care, and much more. With more than 95 doctors in eight locations across Sarasota and Manatee County, Florida, we make it easy to find a qualified doctor at a location that’s convenient to you. You can request an appointment online now.