The human foot is a strong and complex mechanical structure containing 26 bones, 33 joints (20 of which are actively articulated), and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments, as well as nerves, blood vessels and lymphatics. Strong enough to bear your body weight, and the only place your body touches the ground; your foot can be prone to injury and pain.
Due to their position and function, feet are exposed to a variety of potential infections and injuries, including athlete’s foot, bunions, ingrown toenails, Morton’s neuroma, plantar fasciitis, plantar warts and stress fractures. In addition, several genetic disorders can affect the shape and function of the feet, including a club foot or flat feet.
Foot pain may develop for a number of reasons — fracture and infection are among the most serious while sprains and arthritis are among the most common. Foot pain can affect any part of your foot, from your toes to your Achilles tendon at the back of your heel. Although mild foot pain often responds well to home treatments, it can take time to resolve. Your doctor should evaluate severe foot pain, especially if it follows an injury. Remember, it is not normal for your feet to hurt regularly or for a prolonged time.
What causes foot pain?
One of the main causes of foot pain is wearing shoes that don’t fit properly or poorly supportive shoes. Wearing high-heeled shoes can often cause foot pain because they place a great deal of pressure on the toes and ball of the foot. Foot pain is often the result of injuries sustained during high-impact exercise or sports activities, such as jogging or intense aerobics. Your feet are also especially susceptible to the pain that occurs due to arthritis. Arthritis can affect any of the 33 joints in your foot.
Some of the foot conditions that can lead to pain include:
- Plantar fasciitis: inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament
- Ingrown toenails: your toenail growing into your skin
- Bunions: deformity of the joint at the base of your big toe
- Warts: a small growth of skin with a rough texture caused by viruses.
- Corns/calluses: hardened layers of skin that develop from your skin’s response to friction and pressure
- Tendonitis: irritation or thickening of tendons near joints
- Sprains: tears, strains, or damage to ligaments
- Peripheral neuropathy: damage to nerves in your peripheral nervous system
- Flat feet: poor arch support
- Arthritis: inflammation and damage of the foot or ankle joints
- Morton’s neuroma, which is a thickening around the nerve tissue between toes near the ball of the foot
- Hammer toe: a toe that has an abnormal bend in its middle joint, making the toe bend downward to look like a hammer
Diabetes can also cause complications and several disorders of the feet. People with diabetes are more prone to nerve damage in the feet, clogged or hardened arteries in the legs and feet and foot ulcers or sores.
Foot pain may be accompanied by other symptoms, depending on its cause and any underlying diseases or conditions. Some conditions that frequently affect the feet, such as peripheral vascular disease or diabetic neuropathy, can cause symptoms in other body systems.
Pain in the feet may accompany other symptoms affecting any of the structures of the foot including:
- Bleeding or bruising
- Burning or tingling sensation (paresthesia)
- Difficulty moving the foot, ankle or toes
- Joint pain
- Swelling (edema) of the foot or joints
Diagnosis and treatment of foot pain.
Your doctor at Augusta Foot & Ankle can identify the cause of your foot pain and recommend an effective treatment plan to relieve your symptoms. During your appointment, the doctor may observe your posture and how you walk. He will also examine your legs and feet. He will ask for details of your foot pain, such as when it started, what parts of the feet are affected, and how severe it is.
Depending on your pain, your doctor might request digital imaging testing to examine the structure of your feet. These could include:
- X-rays or CT scans to evaluate the bones and joints in your feet
- MRIs to closely examine soft tissues or other structures not well visualized on X-rays
- Ultrasounds to review tendons and soft tissue for damage
Augusta Foot & Ankle offers advanced conservative and state-of-the-art surgical solutions for a variety of foot conditions. Treatments may include:
- Custom orthotics designed to relieve foot pain
- Physical therapy or exercises to stretch and strengthen muscles, ligaments, and tendons
- Medications or cortisone injections to relieve pain
- Minimally invasive procedures like amniotic membrane stem cell injections
- Tenex Health TX ultrasonic energy to target and remove damaged tissue of tendons and ligaments
- MLS Laser therapy for chronic and acute pain
- Reconstructive surgery when required to correct deformities, relieve pain, improve function, and maintain mobility
Most people with problems in their feet or ankles won’t need surgery. The decision whether to operate depends on a number of factors:
- Severity of your symptoms (pain and the effect this has on your life)
- Your response to other treatments, including drugs, orthotic insoles and special footwear.
- Your lifestyle choices