Ask A Shoe Doctor Did you know that your foot is composed of 24 bones that form two crossing arches of the foot? The ankles of your foot are formed by the interaction of the foot and lower leg. The bones of your foot are held together with ligaments. The foot muscles, along with a tissue known as planter fascia, provide secondary support. There are also fat pads in the foot to help with weight-bearing and absorbing impact. When you experience discomfort or pain, that’s an indication that something is wrong. How and when the pain occurs, can often help in determining the cause and severity of the condition. WHAT CAUSES FOOT PAIN Trauma, disease and injuries are the most likely causes of foot pain. Poor biomechanical alignment and the type of footwear worn can also cause pain or discomfort. Shoes that fit tight or are tied too tightly can cause pain on the top of the foot. High heels can cause pain around the ball of your foot just below your toes. Pain and tenderness in a specific area for a prolonged period of time is telltale sign of a possible problem. Achilles Tendonitis Definition: Inflammation & degeneration of the tendon in the back of the leg that inserts into the heel Causes: Over-pronation, improper fitting footwear, inadequate stretching Symptoms: Shooting, burning or extreme piercing pain Treatment & Prevention: Thorough stretching program, decrease in physical activity, heel cups or cradles, orthotics Bunions Definition: A prominent bump on the inside of the foot around the big toe joint Causes: Usually from wearing tight & narrow footwear with a constrictive toe box Symptoms: Inflammation, swelling and soreness on the side surface of the big toe Treatment & Prevention: Footwear with wide toe boxes, and stretch fabrics, orthotics, bunion shields, bunion night splints Heel Pain Syndrome Definition: Extreme heel discomfort Causes: Plantar Fasciitis or over-use repetitive stress Symptoms: Pain underneath the heel or just behind it, where the tendon attaches to the heel bone Treatment & Prevention: Heel cups or cradles, orthotics with arch support, shock absorption, cushioning, footwear with elevated heels Metatarsalgia (Ball-of-Foot Pain) Definition: Inflammation or pain at the bones and joints at the ball-of-foot Causes: Thinning out of the fat pad, improper fitting footwear such as shoes with narrow toe boxes, high heels, excessive pressure Symptoms: Pain in the region of the foot before the toes Treatment & Prevention: Orthotics with metatarsal pads, proper fitting footwear with high, wide toe boxes, shoes with rocker bottoms Plantar Fasciitis Definition: Inflammation of fibrous tissue along bottom of foot Causes: Over-pronation (flat feet), high arch feet, sudden increase in physical activity, excessive weight gain, flip flops Symptoms: Heel pain, heel spurs, arch pain first thing in the morning or after a period of prolonged rest Treatment & Prevention: Orthotics with arch support & rearfoot posting, footwear with proper cushioning and shock absorption, stretching, night splints Pregnancy & Feet Definition: Over-pronation, edema Causes: Weight gain, hormonal changes, flattened arches Symptoms: Pain at the heel, arch, ball-of-foot, leg cramping, varicose veins Treatment & Prevention: Orthotics with arch support & rearfoot posting, wide width footwear that incorporates stretch fabrics **The treatment and preventions stated on this page are recommendations given by Podiatrists and Pedorthists. This is not to be taken as prescribed treatment. If you are having ongoing foot or ankle issues, please consult your doctor.