Many people are bound to experience common foot issues at some period or another, as there are quite a lot of them out there that occur in both men and women. A lot of us are on our feet for hours every day, so suffering from some sort of common foot problem is likely, especially for athletes, workers and active people who spend the majority of their time standing and walking.
Here, we’ll go through some of the most common foot ailments, from hammer toes and bunions to pronated feet and plantar fasciitis, and offer a bit of advice on how you can manage them. For instance, there are special shoes such as orthopedic styles that can help with certain problems like flat feet, as well as inventions like metatarsal pads designed to ease ball of foot pain. Ahead, read on for the causes of common foot problems and what you can do if you’re currently dealing with one of them.
Overpronation (often due to flat feet) or when your feet lean inward, injury and overstresses of the tendon are the leading causes of Achilles Tendonitis, which typically cause severe aching or burning pain in the back of the heel. Ice therapy and activity modification can help to reduce inflammation. Wearing shoes to aid in overpronation and help maintain proper foot alignment can also help relieve stress on the Achilles tendon.
Bunions form as a bony bump on the joint at the base of your big toe when some of the bones in the front of your foot deviate. As a result, the tip of the big toe will get pulled towards the rest of the smaller toes and force the joint at the base of your big toe to stick out uncomfortably. As one of the most common foot problems, they typically form as a result of wearing pointed-toe shoes or too-tight footwear. Again, overpronating is also a known cause of bunions. The best shoes for bunions will have a wider toe box and arch support that controls pronation and evenly distributes pressure across the whole foot to help take the pressure off the area. Cushioned soles can also help reduce the impact on your feet, and thus, reduce the stress on your bunions.
Calluses are thick, hardened layers of skin that form as a result of excess pressure and friction. They are also one of the most common foot problems. Essentially, calluses develop because your skin is trying to protect itself against blisters and ulceration. Unfortunately, calluses, which vary in shape and size, can still be painful. To treat them, you’ll simply want to try to avoid the repetitive actions that caused them to develop. Additionally, using a salicylic acid treatment along with a pumice stone or file can be helpful.
Like calluses, corns are one of the most common foot problems and the areas of thickened skin that develop can become painful. Basically, corns are calluses that develop on the toes when the bones push up against the shoe, putting pressure on the skin. They are generally caused by irritation from ill-fitting shoes or abnormal friction due to a bony prominence. Hard corns are often located on the top of the toe or on the side of the small toe while soft corns generally develop between the toes as they rub against each other and can look like open sores. Again, corns can be treated by using salicylic acid patches, pumice stones and files. The pain can also be reviled by using foam pads over the corn to help relieve pressure. To avoid foot problems associated with corns, it’s also key to wear shoes that fit properly, ideally with a roomy toe area.
When you have flat feet, you don’t have a normal arch, which is the area of the inside of your foot. Instead, the entire sole of your foot will touch the floor when you stand. Also known as fallen arches there are a number of causes, from pregnancy to injury. Sometimes, arches just don’t develop during childhood and is one of the most common foot problems. Typically, people with flat feet will overpronate when they walk. Many people won’t actually have any real symptoms due to flat feet, but some will experience pain, particularly in the heel or arch. The best arch support shoes for flat feet should have a deep heel cup and encourage proper pronation. What are flat feet good for? According to the New York Times, a 1989 study actually showed that those with higher arches as opposed to flat feet were twice as likely to be injured.
One of the most common toe problems are hammertoes, which affects the second, third or fourth toes, and occur when the toe is bent at the middle joint, making it resemble a hammer. This condition can then lead to corns and calluses. Shoes that don’t fit properly and muscle imbalances surrounding the toes are some of the common causes. If you have a hammer toe, you’ll want to avoid wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow, as well as, high-heeled footwear. Look for shoes with a deep toe box or try comfortable sandals. Metatarsal pads, which are are small and often squishy mechanisms, may be helpful as they can reduce the weight placed on the ball of the foot and help with toe alignment.
Seeing that the heel is the largest bone in the foot, it absorbs the most shock and pressure. A heel spur is a bony growth that forms around the heel bone and affects the bottom of the heel. Bone spurs develop as a result of too much pressure, rubbing or stress over time. You can treat heel spurs by doing special stretching exercises as well as wearing shoes with a cushioned heel for maximum shock absorption. Elevating the heel with a heel cradle, heel cup, or orthotic, is also recommended.
Symptoms of neuropathy depend on the exact nerve affected, but typically cause loss of sensation and weakness as well as tingling and burning, in the hands or feet. Roughly 30% of neuropathy cases are considered idiopathic, meaning the cause is unknown, while another 30% of cases are due to diabetes. Physical therapy exercises to help maintain muscle strength may be helpful.
Morton’s Neuroma is a condition that causes pain in the ball of your foot, most commonly the area between your third and fourth toes. It may also be caused by injury and ill-fitting shoes or high heels, which puts the metatarsals under extreme pressure. You should avoid shoes that are too tight and instead, opt for shoes with low heels and a wider fit and softer soles. Custom shoe inserts and pads may relieve irritation by lifting and separating the bones to minimize pressure.
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia, which is the connective tissue that supports the arch of the foot, is pulling on the heel bone. This causes inflammation and pain in the bottom of the heel, and is often most painful in the morning. Causes include too much pressure and stretching that then, in turn, inflames or tears your plantar fascia. You’re more likely to suffer from plantar fasciitis when you have high arches or flat feet. Using shoe inserts, arch supports or custom-made foot orthotics may be helpful. You’ll also want to be sure to wear supportive, sturdy and well-cushioned shoes.
Posterior Tidal Tendonitis Dysfunction
The posterior tibial tendon is what helps us walk. Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (also known as PTTD) happens when there are changes in the tendon that make it unable to support the arch, resulting in the flattening of the foot. Overuse of the posterior tibial tendon is the most common cause. Symptoms of PTTD can include pain, swelling and the ankle rolling inward.