Heel Your Foot Problems With These Simple Steps
Sore soles. Tender toes. Achy arches. As one of the most complex parts of your body, your feet are susceptible to many different stresses and injuries. In fact, each foot is made up of 26 bones that are connected by many joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments.
It’s likely that at some point you’ve endured some form of foot pain, whether it was caused by an underlying foot problem, inflammation or injury. Often times this pain is compounded by ill-fitted shoes that don’t provide the proper support.
Because the feet are so complex and there are a wide range of conditions that can impact anything from your tiniest toe to your largest tendon, let’s look at some of the most common areas of pain in the foot and their possible causes.
Pain in the toes.
Corns are yellowish, callus growths that develop on top of the toes. Corns develop because of abuse or stress. Often, a corn develops where a toe rubs against a shoe or another toe. Corns can cause extreme discomfort and pain. Treatment may include:
Trimming the corn by shaving the layers of dead skin
Applying pads around the corn area
Wearing larger shoes to comfortably fit your foot without rubbing
To prevent future corns, make sure to wear shoes that fit properly
Bunions are protrusions of bone or tissue around a joint. Bunions may occur at the base of the big toe or at the base of the little toe, and often occur when the joint is stressed over a period of time. Women get bunions more often than men do because they may wear tight, pointed and confining shoes. Bunions can also be a result of arthritis, which often affects the big toe joint.
Treatment of bunions may vary depending on the pain, it may include:
Wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes (particularly shoes that conform to the shape of the foot and do not cause pressure areas)
Surgery (for pain, not for cosmetic purposes)
Applying pads to the affected area
Medicine, such as ibuprofen
Hammertoe is a condition in which the toe buckles, causing the middle joint of the affected toe to poke out. Tight-fitting shoes that put pressure on the hammertoe often aggravate this condition. Often a corn develops at the site, too. Treatment for hammertoes may include:
Applying a toe pad specially positioned over the bony protrusion
Changing your footwear to accommodate the deformed toe
Pain in the ball of the foot.
Pain in the ball of the foot, located on the bottom of the foot behind the toes, may be caused by nerve or joint damage in that area. In addition, a benign (noncancerous) growth, such as Morton's neuroma, may cause the pain. Corticosteroid injections and wearing supportive shoe inserts may help relieve the pain.
Pain the heel.
Plantar fasciitis is characterized by severe pain in the heel of the foot, especially when standing up after resting. The condition is due to an overuse injury of the sole surface (plantar) of the foot and results in inflammation of the fascia, a tough, fibrous band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the base of the toes.
Plantar fasciitis is more common in women, people who are overweight, people with occupations that require a lot of walking or standing on hard surfaces, people with flat feet and people with high arches. Walking or running, especially with tight calf muscles, may also cause the condition.
Treatment may include:
Ice pack applications
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines
Stretching exercises of the Achilles tendons and plantar fascia
A heel spur is a bone growth on the heel bone. If the plantar fascia is overstretched from running, wearing poor-fitting shoes or being overweight, pain can result from the stress and inflammation of the tissue pulling on the bone. Over time, the body builds extra bone in response to this stress resulting in heel spurs. Treatment options may include:
Anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen
Proper stretching before activity
Proper footwear or shoe inserts
Surgery (for more severe, prolonged conditions)
Pain in the Achilles tendon.
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the human body. It connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. However, this tendon is also the most common site of rupture or tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendon due to overuse.
Achilles tendonitis is caused by overuse of the tendon and calf muscles. Symptoms may include mild pain after exercise that worsens gradually, stiffness that disappears after the tendon warms up, and swelling. Treatment may include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine
Supportive devices and/or bandages for the muscle and tendon
Put your best foot forward.