The foot is the most neglected part of the body but it is also one of the most important structures for humans. The foot may appear very simple but is a complex anatomical structure with numerous bones, joints, ligaments, blood vessels and nerves running through it. Each day the foot takes a lot of punishment and undergoes intense wear and tear. For this reason, foot pain is a common complaint in our society.
Foot Pain Symptoms
Foot pain can arise from damage to any one of the structures. If the blood vessels are narrowed, there may not be enough blood, if you over use the foot, one can develop Achilles tendonitis, if you wear tight shoes you can develop bunions or hammer toes. While in most cases foot pain is not serious or life threatening, there are some disorders of the foot that need to be seen by a physician. Foot pain can quickly disable a person and affect one’s lifestyle. When serious foot pain is ignored, it can lead to long term disability and permanently damage important structures of the foot.
Besides pain, the foot can also become swollen, pale in color, develop painful ulcers or the joints may become mal-aligned and look cosmetically unattractive. In most people, foot pain is caused by wearing poorly or ill fitting shoes. The second most common cause of foot pain is overuse injury. Foot pain can also occur from arthritis, gout, diabetes, bunions and a variety of strains and sprains.
Common disorders that cause foot pain
Achilles tendinitis or rupture is most common in athletes causes a burning pain at the back of the heel
Avulsion fracture often occur when the ankle is twisted and a fragment of bone is torn off
Bone spurs are common in the ankle and can cause continuous pain
Fractures of the ankle or foot bones often occur after a fall and may result in bruising, swelling and pain
Bunions are common in females who wear tight high heel shoes. The pain can be severe and if early treatment is not sought, the condition progresses
Bursitis is accumulation of fluid in the sacs that surround the joints of the foot
Corns and calluses are common in people who over use their feet while walking, running or are into intense physical fitness
Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most common causes of foot pain and often results in burning pain
Flatfeet are congenital and can easily be treated with a variety of insoles
Gout is common on the big toe and results in excruciating pain<
Hammertoe and mallet toes are common in individuals who wear tight or poorly fitting shoes
Ingrown toenails are a common cause of foot pain
Metatarsalgia and Morton’s neuroma are pain disorders that occur on the sole and related to a pinched nerve
Osteoarthritis is rare but can occur on the ankle joints and cause considerable pain
Peripheral neuropathies from many disorders can be a cause of foot pain<
Plantar fasciitis is heel pain that is burning in nature and difficult to treat
Tendon sprains and rupture are common causes of foot pain in athletes and the elderly
Rheumatoid arthritis is rare in the foot but can be painful when it occurs
Stress fractures are most common in military personnel who are on their feet for long hours
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is due to nerve compression
Diagnosis & Treatment
The diagnosis of foot pain depends on the clinical history and physical exam. The physician may order an x ray, CT scan or an MRI to assess the deeper structures of the foot. If the blood supply is of concern, you may undergo a duplex ultrasound study. If an infection is suspected, aspiration of the joint may be performed. The treatment will depend on the diagnosis.
If you have any doubt about the foot pain, it is always wise to seek proper medical attention