8 Painful Foot Conditions
Heel pain is a common foot problem and has a number of possible causes. The most common cause is plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel bone. The plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue that spans the sole of the foot and provides shock absorption while walking.Other frequent causes of heel pain include soft tissue inflammation, such as bursitis or a pinched nerve. In children, heel pain can be caused by strain on the heel bone’s growth plate. More »
2. Nerve Problems
Occasionally, foot pain is caused by a pinched or irritated nerve. One type of pinched nerve, or nerve entrapment, that is often seen in the foot is called tarsal tunnel syndrome and is characterized by shooting or burning pain that radiates from the inside (big toe side) of the ankle into the arch and sole.
Another common nerve problem within the foot is a neuroma, which causes shooting pain between the toes — most often between toes three and four. Some medical conditions result in peripheral neuropathy, which is nerve damage to the limbs. Symptoms of neuropathy include pain that radiates to the feet, often worse at night. More »
An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of a toenail grows or is pressed into the skin edge. It usually occurs at the edge of the big toenail as a result of shoe pressure. Even the smallest amount of ingrowing can be very painful. Besides pain, other signs of an ingrown toenail include red or swollen skin adjacent to the nail, which are signs of infection. The ingrown piece of nail is often unseen because it is buried beneath the skin. More »
Calluses are thickened areas of skin over parts of the feet where excessive amounts of pressure or friction occur. Calluses at the heel can become painful if they fissure, or split open. Corns occur on the toes where they rub against the shoe. Sometimes the tiniest callus or corn can cause intense pain because it extends deep into the layers of the skin and presses on nerves. Corns and calluses also look similar to warts, which can be equally painful. More »
Tendons are the cord-like structures that anchor muscles to bone. When they are over-stretched or over-used, tendonitis can occur. Tendonitis causes pain with activity or stretching, and the affected tendon is usually painful to the touch. Recurrent tendonitis may be a sign of tendon tearing and weakening, also known as tendinosis. Common types of tendonitis affecting the foot and ankle are: Achilles tendonitis, posterior tibial tendonitis, and peroneal tendonitis. More »
Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of cartilage within a joint from physical wear-and-tear. The joint damage manifests as decreased joint space, worn cartilage, and bone spurs surrounding the joint. The pain and lack of mobility from osteoarthritis are often experienced at the ankle joint, the subtalar joint (click for image), and the big toe joint. Other less common forms of arthritis that can cause foot pain include gout, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and lupus. More »
A bunion is a large bump on the side of foot, just below the big toe joint. It’s the result of the big toe shifting out of position over time and pressing against the second toe, which results in abnormal stress on the big toe joint and surrounding ligaments. Bunion pain can flare up on occasion and may be accompanied by bursitis (an inflamed pocket of fluid) over the bunion. Bunions can also occur on the pinkie toe side of the foot. More »
Janet D. Pearl, MD, MSc is the Medical Director of The Center for Morton’s Neuroma and Complete Spine and Pain Care, an interventional and integrated Pain Management program located in Framingham, Massachusetts. Previously, Dr. Pearl was the Co-Director of the Pain Management Center at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, where she was also the Director of the Fellowship program. She is the former Director of a satellite pain center of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Pain Management Center, located at the HealthSouth Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital. Dr. Pearl held academic appointments at Harvard Medical School and Tufts Medical School. She serves on the Health Care Services Board of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents since 2000 as one of its physician representatives and is Chair of the Committee on Pain Management.