Foot Pain

Causes of sore feet, legs, knees and shins...

Choose a Foot Problem

Click on a dot to reveal a summery here of what might be causing pain in that area.

Archilles Tendonitis (ankle pain)

Achilles tendonitis is a condition commonly associated with exercise, particularly running, that causes pain at the back of the ankle... MORE >>

Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains usually occur via a sudden twist or blunt force that forces the ankle to roll out of its normal position... MORE >>

Arthritis

This pain can be almost anywhere. There are three main types of arthritis that can affect the feet... MORE >>

Bursitis (sore toes)

A bursa is a small fluid-filled sac located near a joint, bone or tendon which protects the area from friction... MORE >>

Bunions

A bunion is the enlargement of the toe joint on the inside of each foot... MORE >>

Calluses and Corns

Calluses are a general thickening of the skin over a wide area of the foot... MORE >>

Extensor Tendonitis (sore, swollen toes)

Extensor tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons and tendon sheath that attach to the top and ends of the toes... MORE >>

Heel Fissures (cracked heels)

Heel fissures occur in response to excessive stress on the skin. People who wear open-heeled shoes or no shoes during summer often suffer from cracked heels... MORE >>

Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain)

Extensor tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons and tendon sheath that attach to the top and ends of the toes... MORE >>

Ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails are a very common toe problem and can be extremely painful... MORE >>

Fungal skin infections (Tinea Pedis)

When the skin of the foot is infected with a fungus (the most common being Athlete's Foot), the skin can form purplish spots that discharge a clear fluid and become itchy... MORE >>

Fungal toenail infections (Tinea Ungium)

The most common fungal toenail infection is Athlete's Foot. This usually causes the appearance of the nails to change... MORE >>

Metatarsalgia (ball of foot pain)

Pain in the ball of the foot is common in those who wear high heeled shoes or hard shoes while standing for long periods of time... MORE >>

Neuroma (numb or tingling toes)

A neuroma is a benign thickening of the nerve, usually between the 3rd and 4th metatarsal bones on the top of the foot... MORE >>

Patello Femoral Syndrome (knee pain)

Patello femoral syndrome is one of the most common causes of knee pain in non athletes... MORE >>

Peroneal Tendonitis (ankle pain)

The two pereoneal tendons run past the back outside part of the ankle. Overuse of either of these tendons can cause inflammation, pain and swelling... MORE >>

Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

The posterior tibial tendon is one of the tendons on the inside of the ankle, and is a major supporting structure of the foot... MORE >>

Second Metatarsal Stress Syndrome (Localised Metatarsalgia)

Pain under the knuckle of your second toe, or further towards the toe itself, can often be caused by localised metatarsalgia... MORE >>

Stress fracture

Over training, overuse or sudden impact can cause hairline fractures in the bones of the foot, particularly the metatarsals (the long bones on top of the foot)... MORE >>

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (shin splints)

Shin splints are a common sports injury, particularly in walkers, that cause pain along the inside of the shin bone (tibia)... MORE >>

Verrucas (Plantar Warts)

Verrucas are warts caused by a viral infection of the foot... MORE >>

Achilles Tendonitis (ankle pain)

Achilles tendonitis is a condition commonly associated with exercise, particularly running, that causes pain at the back of the ankle.

When the Achilles tendon (located above the back of the heel) becomes inflamed, it can cause pain when walking or running, and can also become noticeably thickened and tender to touch. People with Achilles tendonitis often also experience tight calf muscles.

Ankle Sprain

Ankle sprains usually occur via a sudden twist or blunt force that forces the ankle to roll out of its normal position. Sprained ankles nearly always occur when the foot is pointed downward. The ankle joint is similar to a ball and socket joint, and the foot is at its most vulnerable when the foot is pointed downwards, meaning the ball (or talus bone) is exposed. Pain, swelling, bruising and difficulty walking are immediate symptoms of an ankle sprain. Stiffness in the joint often occurs if the sprain happened some time ago.

Arthritis

There are three main types of arthritis that can affect the feet:

  • Osteoarthritis: Usually occurs in people from their 40's onwards, when the cartilage covering the surface ends of the bones wears out. It can affect any joint in the foot, and usually involves low grade pain, swelling and inflammation. Osteoarthritis advances slowly, with stiffness and pain worsening over time.
  • Autoimmune disorders: Arthritis can occur due to autoimmune disorders, when the body's immune cells destroy the cartilage. Systemic Lupus Erythmatous, Reiter's Disease, Anklosing Spondylitis and Rheumatoid Arthritis are all examples of autoimmune disorders that can cause arthritis.
  • Post traumatic arthritis: If you have had injuries to your foot in the past you are at increased risk of developing symptoms similar to Osteoarthritis. The only difference being this type of arthritis is delayed onset, after ligament injury, severe sprain or a fracture.

Bursitis (sore toes)

A bursa is a small fluid-filled sac located near a joint, bone or tendon which protects the area from friction. Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa, and commonly occurs in the little toe. If your toe feels 'squidgy' and is causing you pain, bursitis may be the cause. Shoes can often irritate the area through repetitive motion or friction.

Bunions

A bunion is the enlargement of the toe joint on the inside of each foot. Small bunions can also occur on the little toe joint on the outside of each foot. With a bunion, the toes bend inward and a bony lump forms on the outside of the joint. Over time the lump can become larger, and localised arthritis can occur in that joint. The joint becomes stiff and mildly inflamed. Corns and calluses can also arise. Bunions are often hereditary, but poor footwear can also be the cause, as can poor foot mechanics (the way your foot moves) during walking.

Calluses and Corns

Calluses are a general thickening of the skin over a wide area of the foot. They can result from shoes that constantly rub the feet, or they may also be genetically inherited. Corns are a small nucleus of hard skin about the size of a pinhead. The hard central core presses on underlying nerves, leading to pain.

Extensor Tendonitis (sore, swollen toes)

Extensor tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendons and tendon sheath that attach to the top and ends of the toes. Symptoms often include pain and swelling of the toes. This problem is usually caused by loose-fitting or open heeled shoes that encourage the toes to 'claw', resulting in over use of the tendon. Unaccustomed walking such as going barefoot in summer or wearing summer footwear can be another cause of extensor tendonitis.

Heel Fissures (cracked heels)

Heel fissures occur in response to excessive stress on the skin. People who wear open-heeled shoes or no shoes during summer often suffer from cracked heels. This is because the air circulating around the heel causes the skin to lose moisture, so the skin becomes dry and brittle, and cracks form. While heel fissures can be painful they are generally not serious and can be painlessly pared back.

Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain)

The plantar fascia is a ligament that connects to the heel bone. When not in use for long periods (such as when sleeping), the ligament contracts and becomes tight. When it is stretched again, such as when getting up after sleeping, it is still tight and heel pain can occur. The plantar fascia plays a vital role in correct foot function by transferring weight from the heels to the toes. When irritated or inflamed, even small movements can be very painful. This type of foot pain is very common, particularly in people over 40, and in non-runners who need to stand still for long periods. Sufferers often experience heel pain when getting up in the morning, during long walks or long periods of being on their feet. Plantar fasciitis is more likely to occur if:

  • You have pronated feet ('flat' feet or collapsed arches)
  • You walk or stand for long periods
  • You are overweight
  • You wear inappropriate footwear
  • You have one leg longer than the other

Ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails are a very common toe problem and can be extremely painful. The problem occurs when a 'spike' occurs in the toenail that punctures the flesh of the toe. The toe then becomes red, swollen, sore and throbbing, with severe pain if the toe is knocked or stood on. There may also be a pus discharge. Ingrown toenails can occur for several reasons, and usually arise from poor nail care, improper trimming, very curved toenails, shoes with a narrow toe box or pressure and repeated trauma to the foot from walking.

Fungal skin infections (Tinea Pedis)

When the skin of the foot is infected with a fungus (the most common being Athlete's Foot), the skin can form purplish spots that discharge a clear fluid and become itchy. The most common place for fungal skin infections to occur is the soles of the feet. Fungal infections can be challenging to treat, and require a commitment to consistent treatment from the patient.

Fungal toenail infections (Tinea Ungium)

The most common fungal toenail infection is Athlete's Foot. This usually causes the appearance of the nails to change, as they become thickened, crumbly and discoloured. The nail can sometimes lift off the nail bed, and may also get thicker and smell musty. Sometimes the nail looks normal, except for the presence of white powdery matter on the top of the nail only.

Metatarsalgia (ball of foot pain)

Pain in the ball of the foot is common in those who wear high heeled shoes or hard shoes while standing for long periods of time. When weight is unevenly distributed in the forefoot, the ligaments that hold this area together can stretch. Over time, the entire forefoot structure can collapse. These events lead to pressure and friction in the ball of the front of the foot known as metatarsalgia. Metatarsalgia can also be localised - see Second Metatarsal Stress Syndrome.

Neuroma (numb or tingling toes)

A neuroma is a benign thickening of the nerve, usually between the 3rd and 4th metatarsal bones on the top of the foot. Within this metatarsal region is a vulnerable nerve, and when this is repeatedly compressed, a numbness and tingling sensation often occurs in the toes. This can be uncomfortable and painful, and some sufferers often want to remove their shoes and wring their toes to reduce the symptoms. The thickening is fibrous and accompanied with swelling due to the ongoing compression.

Patello Femoral Syndrome (knee pain)

Patello femoral syndrome is one of the most common causes of knee pain in non athletes. Sufferers usually experience pain at the front (anterior) of the knee, although pain in the inside of the knee can also occur. Pain is often felt after sitting. The condition can also be accompanied by aching in the knee area, swelling and a creaking feeling when the knee moves. It is usually caused when the under-surface of the patella (knee cap) rubs against the groove of the femur (thigh bone), causing inflammation. This pain is more pronounced when walking upstairs or squatting, because these exercises 'load up' the patello femoral joint to many times the body weight when the knee is flexed. As an example, walking transmits half the force of bodyweight, running 3-4 times, and gym work involving knee exercises such as squats, 7-8 times the force of bodyweight.

Peroneal Tendonitis (ankle pain)

The two pereoneal tendons run past the back outside part of the ankle. Overuse of either of these tendons can cause inflammation, pain and swelling around the outside of the ankle, as well as altered foot function. Pereoneal tendonitis is most common in people who have very flexible feet in the mid-foot region, and those who do a lot of sports involving fast, repetitive ankle motion such as running. It usually occurs over time, and often starts out as just an ache.

Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

The posterior tibial tendon is one of the tendons on the inside of the ankle, and is a major supporting structure of the foot. Over time and for a variety of reasons, the tendon's ability to support the arch of the foot can become impaired. As a result, the foot flattens which causes pain when walking. It is quite common for one foot only to be affected, while the other remains normal.

Second Metatarsal Stress Syndrome (Localised Metatarsalgia)

Pain under the knuckle of your second toe, or further towards the toe itself, can often be caused by localised metatarsalgia. When metatarsalgia occurs in this area it is commonly called second metatarsal stress syndrome. Second metatarsal stress syndrome commonly occurs when the first or 'big' toe has limited movement, or arthritis is present. This means the big toe does not bear the majority of force as it should, and the second toe joint then becomes overburdened. Second metatarsal stress syndrome is commonly caused by overuse, rather than injury, and results in pain and swelling in the toes, coupled with difficulty walking and taking part in sport.

Stress fracture

Over training, overuse or sudden impact can cause hairline fractures in the bones of the foot, particularly the metatarsals (the long bones on top of the foot). Hairline fractures are tiny breaks in the bones which, if left untreated, can lead to a full break. Stress fractures make it hard to walk fully on the affected foot, and the affected area can become very swollen with throbbing pain, often resulting in difficulty sleeping.

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (shin splints)

Shin splints are a common sports injury, particularly in walkers, that cause pain along the inside of the shin bone (tibia). The pain usually starts as a dull ache, and usually only when exercising. However, over time the pain becomes more intense and focussed, and may start to occur when walking or even while resting.

Verrucas (Plantar Warts)

Verrucas are warts caused by a viral infection of the foot. The warts usually form on the sole of the foot, and can occur singularly, or tightly packed together. The skin's natural lines (striae) are broken as they deviate around the verruca. Verrucas usually have a rough surface, and the overlying skin can become thick, which can cause pain while standing or walking. The surrounding area can also become inflamed. Pain, appearance of the verruca and its ability to spread to other people are the main reasons for seeking treatment. However, no one-off treatment can guarantee a cure, and this includes podiatry treatment.

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