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Common Foot Problems and Foot Pain Diagnosis

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Pain in foot? Here's an easy-to-read list of common foot problems and symptoms so you can easily tell the cause of your foot pain.

The foot is divided into three sections - the heel, the mid-foot plus the forefoot (known as the ball of the feet) and the toes. Each section of the foot needs to function properly and work well with the other sections in order for us to walk properly and without pain. When we take a step forward, our heel touches the ground first, followed by pressure on the mid foot and then the forefoot and toes - and that's how we move forward.

Here are the most common foot problems:


Corns and calluses can appear in any part of the foot and can vary greatly in size and even in shape. Corns and calluses form when the skin thickens due to pressure. A callus is a more diffused (or 'spread out') area of thickened skin, whereas a corn is a more focused thick area that happens under the foot and is surrounded by a callus. They form because the foot is trying to protective itself against undue pressure and friction. Calluses are usually found on the ball of the foot, inside the big toe or on the heel. One of the most common corns that can form is the so-called 'hammer-toe' - that's when your toe gets bent. The most common cause of hammer-toe is caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes especially high heels. They can also be caused by an injury such as a broken toe and hammer-toes might even run in the family.

Some corns and calluses don't hurt at all but they look pretty awful, whereas others can cause so much pain that they are often described as feeling like a 'hot poker' being poked into the feet. Much depends on the size and location of the callus or corn. The best treatment for calluses and corns is to wear proper fitted shoes. Corn pads can help to cushion the corns. They can be filed down with a punice stone or a foot file but if you suffer from poor circulation in your feet or the pain is very bad, consult a podiatrist first before you try to fix the foot pain yourself as you may make things worse. Corns and calluses may appear first before the bunion starts to take shape. Treatment varies according to the severity of the condition. In the early stages, wearing special devices called orthotics in the shoes and wearing suitable or adjusted shoes will help, as will wearing special foot splints at night. Special foot pads will provide comfort as will over-the-counter pain medication.


A bunion is a bony lump that causes the big toe to become enlarged and makes it push against the other toes which in turn can become crooked and cramped together. Bunions start first as bulges inside the base of the big toe. They start off red and sore. The pressure builds and make the joint of the big toe move outward - causing deformity and pain. Again, the most common reason for bunions is the wearing of improper shoes - high heels especially those with pointed toes may create bunions as does wearing shoes that are too small for you. That's why bunions are most common in women - especially the fashion-loving women who rarely wear flat or 'sensible' shoes. Bunions may run in the family too. When the bunion is still in the early stage, the best bunion treatment is a combination of switching shoes to 'sensible' ones that fit properly. You can also get special shoes inserts (known as orthotics), and padding to relieve the pain. Wearing foot splints at night can slow down the progress of the bunion and help with the pain on the toes too.

If the bunion gets to a very severe stage, you might need foot surgery called a 'bunionectomy'. Some or all of the bunion is removed and often some of the bone as well in order to straighten the toe. Even after a bunionectomy, there is a risk of the bunion re-forming and you need to continue to wear proper shoes and look after your feet properly.


Sometimes bunions are mistaken for Hallux Rigidus which is a type of arthritis which effects the joint of the big toe. Read here for more information about hallux rigidus symptoms and treatment.


Metatarsalgia is pain at the forefoot which is the area before the toes - the ball of the feet. The pain might be acute or might re-occur. Again, metatarsalgia is mostly caused by the wearing of improper shoes - especially very high heels and also footwear without insoles. If you are doing high-impact activities such as running and you are wearing shoes without insoles or padding you could suffer from metatarsalgia. As we get older the fatty padding in the foot tends to get thinner and so we are more suspectible to pain in the forefoot region. To treat metatarsalgia, a podiatrist will first try to find the exact cause of the pain and the precise area effected. Then he or she will probably give you advice on the proper shoes to wear or suggest special insoles or foot pads. Wearing shoes with a high wide toe box and rocker soles work well. A rocker sole reduces the stress on the balls of the feet as the pressure is spread out throughout the main areas of the foot. The best known brand of rocker soles are MBT

and the brand Cherokee
. Skechers, Reebok and other companies are starting to produce rocker soles too. Wearing shoes with a high wide toe box allows the foot to spread out. Orthotics with a metatarsal pad can also provide foot pain relief.


This is pain in the heel area of the foot - the area that acts like a shock absorber for your feet. Read this article for plantar fasciitis facts, symptoms and treatment.


Pain in the achilles heel? The are two types of pain associated with the Achilles Tendon which is just above the heel. There's the pain in the Archilles tendon itself, plus pain at the point where the Achilles Tendon meets the heel bone. Both require different treatment.


Many people can suffer from pain of the achilles. That includes runners, people with thyroid or metabolic disease, people who have taken antibiotics containing quinolone and those with flat feet. Treatment includes stretching and strengthening exercises. If you have flat feet - you can correct them with insoles or special orthotics inserts. In extreme cases, you might need to have diseased achilles tendon fibers removed. Some injections such as high-volume injections of saline might help. Generally, steriod injections are not recommended as they might cause the tendon to weaken over time.


Pain at the point the Achilles tendon inserts into the heel bone is often due to a Haglund deformity where the heel bone is too prominent. This is the problem that affected the Olympic gold medal winning Chinese athlete Liu Xiang. You can confirm Haglund deformity by a simple X-Ray. Treatment involves strengthening and stretching exercises and if that doesn't work - then you can undergo an operator to remove the extra part of the bone.


Your feet literally provide a fountain for your body. If your feet do not function properly, you can disturb the whole balance of the body. If your feet are causing you pain, it's worth booking an appointment with a podiatrist for a proper diagnosis and treatment.



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