Common Foot Conditions: A Guide
Proper Diagnosis is the Key to Pain-Free Feet
Customers come to us with a range of foot conditions and in various stages of recovery from injury. A great first step toward a complete recovery is to speak with your healthcare provider about your pain or discomfort. Once you clearly express your needs to one of our experienced store associates, they will be happy to help you find the shoe to provide you with the best available support and comfort.
Here is a list of the most common foot injuries and conditions.
Achilles tendon pain
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body. It connects calf muscles and other muscles in the lower leg to the heel bone of the foot. Although strong, tendons are not very flexible, which means over-stretching them can cause problems. When the Achilles tendon is overstretched, it can become inflamed, which is called Achilles tendinitis or tear.
Inflamed or torn Achilles tendons can cause slight aches, tenderness, stiffness and in some cases pain. There are several possible causes of Achilles tendon pain. The most common is tendinitis.
Achilles tendon pain can be caused by a sudden increase in exercise, wearing worn out sneakers, not warming up calf muscles before exercising, flat feet, over-pronation, trauma, a short Achilles tendon, a heel bone deformity and discrepancies in leg lengths.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation of the joints at the ball of the foot, which loosens their ligaments. This can cause the bone to push against the skin at the bottom of the foot. The result can be tender calluses and ulceration at the ball of the foot. These may even require surgical care.
A bunion is a bony bump that protrudes from the joint at the base of the big toe. A bunion occurs when bone or tissue on a joint moves out of its proper place. The lump that is then formed from this improper placement can become painful and the skin covering the joint can thicken and become inflamed and swollen. Bunions tend to develop over time.
A hammer toe is a toe that has an abnormal bend in its middle joint. The bend forces the toe to flex downward into the shape of a hammer.
Hammer toe usually appears on the second or third toe and while it can be present at birth, it usually develops over time as the result of wearing ill-fitting shoes or arthritis. Hammer toe can be quite painful but is treatable.
Heel spurs/heel pain
Heel pain is typically felt on the underside, or back of the heel and can range from mild to extreme pain. It also has a range of causes, the most common being plantar fasciitis, a main cause of heel spurs.
A heel spur is a calcium deposit that causes a bony-like protrusion on the underside of the heel bone. Heel spurs usually start at the front of the heel, but they can extend all the way to the arch of the foot.
Although heel spurs are often painless, they can cause a lot of heel pain. The pain can be intermittent or chronic, and inflammation sometimes occurs at the point of the spurs’ formation. Most heel pain is caused by repetitive stress or pounding on the heel rather than by a single injury.
Metatarsalgia is an overuse injury that causes swelling and pain in the ball of the foot. It occurs when shoes are too snug or loose and is linked to running and activities that involve frequent jumping.
Morton’s neuroma causes pain, stinging, burning or numbness in the ball of your foot. It can also make it feel like you are standing on a tiny pebble. The condition is linked to wearing high heels and is caused by a thickening of the nerve tissue between the toes, typically the third and fourth toes.
The thickening is what causes the pain people with Morton’s neuroma experience when walking. The pain can be quite intense with sensations ranging from burning, numbness and swelling to pain in the ball of the foot.
Neuropathy, also known as peripheral neuropathy, is a disease resulting from damage of the peripheral nerves. The peripheral nervous system sends messages from the brain or spinal cord to the rest of the body. Peripheral neuropathy can cause numbness, pain, weakness and insensitivity to pain, touch or temperature. While it usually occurs in hands or feet, it can also occur in other parts of the body.
Neuropathy has many different causes including alcoholism, autoimmune diseases, certain types of medication, infections and vitamin deficiencies – but diabetes is the most common cause. People that suffer from neuropathy run the risk of not noticing injuries or sores and should be watchful of their condition.
Plantar fasciitis can be described as a sharp pain in the bottom of your foot and in your arch. It is most notable in the morning when rising out of bed.
Plantar fasciitis can be exacerbated by any movements that stretch, twist or impact the plantar ligaments. Running, jumping, standing or walking on hard surfaces with unsupportive shoes, and walking barefoot in sand are all activities that can activate heel spurs and plantar fasciitis.
Obesity is another factor that increases stress to the plantar ligaments.
Plantar fasciitis causes a stabbing heel pain due to swelling in the plantar fascia -- the thick tissue on the bottom of your foot. Runners, people who don’t wear properly supportive shoes, and people who are overweight commonly develop plantar fasciitis.