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Understanding Foot Pain: Common Causes and When to Consult a Podiatrist

Foot pain can significantly impact your mobility and quality of life. It can arise from various causes, ranging from injuries and overuse to underlying medical conditions. Here we will explore common causes of foot pain and discuss when it is necessary to seek professional care from a podiatrist.

Plantar Fasciitis: 

Plantar fasciitis is a common condition that causes foot pain, particularly in the heel area. It occurs when the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot and connects the heel bone to the toes, becomes inflamed or irritated. This can happen due to various reasons, such as excessive stress on the feet from activities like running or standing for long periods, improper footwear, flat feet, or tight calf muscles. The pain usually feels sharp and is most intense during the first few steps in the morning or after periods of rest. The inflammation and microtears in the plantar fascia lead to the discomfort and pain associated with plantar fasciitis.

Achilles Tendinitis:

Achilles tendonitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which is the large tendon that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. This inflammation can result from repetitive stress, overuse, or strain on the tendon. Activities that involve sudden increases in intensity or frequency of exercise, improper footwear, and tight calf muscles are common factors that contribute to the development of Achilles tendinitis.

The pain associated with Achilles tendinitis typically manifests as a dull ache or stiffness in the back of the ankle, near the heel. This discomfort can worsen during activities that involve pushing off the foot, such as running or jumping. In some cases, the area around the tendon may become swollen or tender to the touch.

Metatarsalgia: 

Metatarsalgia is a condition characterised by pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot, specifically around the metatarsal bones. These are the long bones that connect to the base of the toes. Metatarsalgia can result from various factors, including wearing improper footwear, high-impact activities, obesity, and certain foot deformities.

The pain associated with metatarsalgia is often described as a burning or aching sensation in the ball of the foot. It can be worsened by activities that involve walking, running, or standing for extended periods. The condition develops due to increased pressure on the metatarsal heads, often caused by a lack of proper cushioning in the feet or by structural imbalances in the foot mechanics.

Morton’s Neuroma: 

Morton’s neuroma is a painful condition that affects the area between the third and fourth toes or, less commonly, between the second and third toes. It involves a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to the toes, usually the nerve that runs between the metatarsal bones.

The exact cause of Morton’s neuroma isn’t always clear, but it’s often attributed to repetitive stress, compression, or irritation of the nerve. Factors that can contribute to its development include wearing tight or ill-fitting footwear, high heels, or shoes that squeeze the toes together. Certain foot deformities or abnormalities in foot structure can also increase the risk.

Stress Fractures:

A stress fracture is a small crack or break in a bone that’s caused by repetitive stress or overuse. In the context of foot pain, stress fractures often occur in the bones of the feet, such as the metatarsals (long bones in the foot) or the heel bone (calcaneus).

When you engage in high-impact activities like running or jumping, or when you suddenly increase the intensity or duration of such activities, the bones can experience repeated force and pressure. Over time, this can lead to tiny cracks in the bone, which is what’s known as a stress fracture.

When to seek Podiatric care? 

Foot pain can have various causes, from common conditions like plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis to stress fractures and Morton’s neuroma. While some foot pain can be managed with rest, ice, and over-the-counter remedies, persistent or severe pain, difficulty walking, and signs of infection warrant professional evaluation from a podiatrist. Don’t let foot pain limit your mobility and quality of life. Consult a podiatrist for an accurate diagnosis, personalised treatment plan, and comprehensive care to address the underlying cause of your foot pain. Your podiatrist is your partner in maintaining healthy and pain-free feet.

If you are experiencing foot pain of any kind and would like to discuss your foot health, contact our team today.

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