Your feet take a pounding every day from walking, standing, exercise, working and shoes. When you add a foot disorder to the equation, each painful step reminds you of how much stress your foot takes. A recent study by theAmerican Podiatric Medical Association showed that there is a 75% chance of you having some type of foot aliment during your lifetime. While there are numerous foot conditions, some conditions are much more common than others. Understanding these conditions and what you can do to help yourself can be the first step back towards a pain-free lifestyle.

1. Heel Pain – Watch out for that first step in the morning.

  • Heel pain is the most common foot disorder; it is a combination of plantar fasciitis with or without a heel spur. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammatory condition of the arch ligament that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot and helps to maintain the arch structure.
  • With continued strain, this can lead to the development of a heel spur. It is a common misconception that a heel spur requires surgery or is a more serious condition; this is inaccurate.
  • There is a direct correlation to body mass index (being over-weight) and the occurrence of heel pain. Other causes of heel pain include: Foot structure, high activity level or a change of activity level, shoe gear, the type of surfaces you stand on, injury, and arthritic conditions.
  • Symptoms usually include a bruised feeling of the heel, which is often worse in the morning or after sitting. This is due to contracture of the plantar fascia while off the foot and a resultant stretch when first getting back on your foot.
  • You can be actively involved in your treatment with a few simple steps. The first goal is to get the inflammation under control, followed by long-term prevention of recurrence.
    1. Start with stretching, appropriate shoe gear, RICE therapy, over-the-counter arch support and anti-inflammatory medication – Foot Care Tips.
    2. If you do not see a resolution of symptoms, consult a professional.

2. Bunions – Why is my big toe crooked?

  • Bunions (Hallux Abducto Valgus) are a boney deformity of the big toe joint in which the great toe moves towards the second toe and a large bump develops on the joint. The joint subsequently does not move through a normal range of motion.
  • Bunions are most often related to foot structure and foot function. Shoes can play a factor in development of bunions as can arthritis, injury, neuromuscular disorders, and congenital disorders.
  • Symptoms may include any of the following: Arthritis, pain and swelling, limitation of motion, redness, calluses or corns.
  • Treatment should be initiated with progression of the deformity or symptoms.
    1. Start by going to a wider shoe with good arch support.
    2. Consider an over-the-counter arch support.
    3. Take an anti-inflammatory medication per package instructions if you experience pain or swelling.
    4. If these measures do not alleviate your symptoms consult a professional.

3. Hammer Toes – Why is my toe rubbing on my shoe?

  • Hammer toes are contracture of the toe, usually the middle joint on the toe, but may also involve the end joint of the toe or the joint where the toe attaches to the foot.
  • Hammer toes are the result of a tendon imbalance due to foot mechanics or structure. Other causes include shoes, neuromuscular disorders, congenital disorders, and injury.
  • Hammer toes are progressive and become more rigid with time, which can result in corn formation and pain. With progression this can lead to redness, swelling and sores.
  • There are few self-treatment options for this condition, but here are a few things you can try on your own to help.
    1. First try to get a wider toe box shoe.
    2. If you have corns or skin irritations consider non-medicated padding.
    3. Over-the-counter orthotics can help with the mechanical or structural deformities.
    4. If symptoms or deformities progress, seek professional care.

4. Morton’s Neuroma – Why are my toes burning?

  • Morton’s neuroma is a pinched nerve that is typically located between the third and fourth toes.
  • The cause of this is unknown, but shoes are contributory as are certain activities like running.
  • The symptoms can be varied, but normally they include burning, numbness, pain, and a full feeling in the ball of the foot. These symptoms are often made worse with dress shoes.
  • Here are a few steps you can take to initially treat you neuroma.
    1. Start with a wider shoe and avoid dress shoes if possible, this helps stop the pinching effect of shoes.
    2. Try a cushioned over-the-counter arch support.
    3. Take an anti-inflammatory medication per package instructions.
    4. If symptoms do not resolve, consult professional care.