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Causes of sore feet, legs, knees and shins

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.


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.


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.

Book your podiatrist appointment today

Appointments are generally 30 minutes. This can work wonders on your feet. You may be surprised after just one appointment to leave with your feet looking and feeling better than before.

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