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The most common types of foot pain explained

Our feet keep us on the ground and take us to where we need to go. They are important; yet, they are being neglected on a daily basis by many. This results in a number of foot problems such as:

•    heel pain
•    heel spurs
•    plantar fasciitis
•    ball of foot pain
•    metatarsalgia
•    achilles tendonitis
•    hammertoes

It is important that you understand what these foot problems are, how they can be identified and how they can be treated.

Heel Pain, Heel Spurs and Plantar Fasciitis

Heel pain, heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are common foot problems which are very closely related. These are in fact the most common forms of foot pain. Most patients who suffer from one of the above mentioned foot problems often complain of feeling a sharp, searing or tearing pain at the bottom of the heel early in the morning.

To better understand the cause of these conditions, we must take a look at the anatomy of the foot. The foot contains a thick ligament called the plantar fascia. This ligament attaches the heel to the base of the toes on the foot. This ligament has many purposes; however, the two main purposes are: it acts as a shock absorber and lengthens the foot by flattening. When the plantar fascia flattens, it stretches. This is normal! However, sometimes certain activities cause the plantar fascia to stretch more than it is supposed to thus causing it to tear. This results in the formation of heel spurs and in the inflammation of the plantar fascia resulting in the condition known as plantar fasciitis. Activities such as excessive walking or standing cause the plantar fascia to strain and can result in heel pain.

 Heel spurs and plantar fasciitis are easily diagnosed through a physical exam and are treated accordingly. Some common treatments include the use of over-the-counter arch support or heel cushions. More severe treatment options include the use of functional foot orthotics and in the worst case; surgery is needed to correct heel pain. Please note that surgery does not correct the cause of heel pain. It just relieves the pain so you will still need to take precautionary measures to correct the cause of the issue.

Ball of Foot Pain

Another common foot problem is ball of foot pain. This condition is caused by your weight not being adequately aligned and distributed over the ball of your foot resulting in it swelling. The ball of the foot is the portion of the foot that is between the toes and arch. This condition can be easily prevented by maintaining a health weight, by wearing proper shoes, by not wearing high heel shoes and by using insoles that are designed to lift and separate the long bones of the arch thus transferring pressure from the ball of the foot.


Another common foot problem is metatarsalgia which results when the metatarsal is inflamed. Common symptoms of this condition include: a burning pain, pain near the toes, shooting pain in the toes and a tingling sensation in the toes. This condition is causes when the head of one metatarsal bone is pressed against another due to weight issues, bad footwear and high impact exercises. Simple methods of dealing with this foot problem include applying ice to the area several times per day, taking over the counter anti-inflammatory medicines, keeping pressure off the feet, exercising the ankle and avoiding high impact sports.

Achilles Tendonitis

Many people are under the misconception that wearing flat shoes is good for the feet. Well, flat shoes are definitely better than high shoes but constantly wearing flats or shoes that folds or bends can result in a condition known as achilles tendonitis. Because your feet are so close to the ground your heel is not supported properly and as a result, you can pull your achilles tendon which is the tendon that attaches your heel to your foot. This can be a very painful condition but with rest and ice you can reduce the pain.




Hammertoe is a conditon in which your toe is pointing toward the floor due to the fact that one or both of your toe joints are bent due to the muscles that control these joints getting out of balance. This condition is most commonly caused by too-tight shoes while some people inherit it. You can choose to correct hammer toes with surgery but it is not really necessary unless it causes you pain. As with other conditions, there are simple things that you can do at home to relieve the pain such as wearing shoes that are not too tight and avoiding pressure on the toes. 

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