Foot pain problems are very common; about 70% of people will suffer foot pain at some time in their lives. A force of 2-3 times our body weight is placed on our feet with every step we take. When we consider that during a typical day we take between 8,000 and 10,000 steps, it comes as no surprise that at some time in our lives we will all suffer from some type of foot pain.
Human feet are constituted of twenty-six bones and thirty-three joints layered with an intricate network of more than 120 muscles, ligaments, and nerves. As such, our feet are extremely complex anatomical structures . We aim to provide a brief overview of the most common types of foot pain problems, why they occur, and what you can do to alleviate these conditions.
Foot Pain Disorders: Common Conditions
Plantar Fasciitis is caused by small tears accompanied by inflammation along the ligaments and tendons stretching from the heel towards the ball of the foot. This region (called the Plantar Fascia) resembles a bow string, and forms the arch of the foot, serving as one of our bodies’ shock absorbers. Pain in the heel, particularly during the first steps as you start the day, is often associated with this type of foot pain. The kind of footwear being worn often plays an important role in providing relief from foot pain. Podiatrists recommend orthotic insoles as plantar fasciitis therapy to help relieve this condition in many people.
Heel spurs consist of bony growths that can cause sharp pain and discomfort around the heel bone (calcaneus). Heel spurs are typically a consequence of having plantar fasciitis. Continuous pulling of the fascia resulting from over-pronation at the heel bone eventually leads to the development of this painful bony growth on the heel. The usual plantar fasciitis treatment involving the use of orthotic insoles can prevent and relieve these types of foot pain problems.
Ball of Foot Pain
Ball of Foot Pain is also known as “Metatarsalgia” in medical terms, and occurs when the metatarsals (forefoot bones) drop and the surrounding ligaments weaken. The entire forefoot structure collapses, in turn leading to excess pressure and friction under the ball of the foot. Podiatrists often recommend orthotic arch supports with metatarsal support to provide needed relief.
It is not uncommon for runners to experience pain in the shin area, also known as Shin Splints. This condition involves inflammation in the front or inside section of the shin bone. In many cases, shin splints are the result of intense physical activity such as running or jumping, and is a condition that can often take a long time to heal. Another cause of shin pain is tight leg muscles. Muscle imbalances caused by improper running posture can also lead to shin pain. Over-pronation is frequently a contributing factor in shin pain. Excessive foot pronation typically results in rotation of te tibial bone, increasing pressures on the ligaments and muscles of the lower leg. Podiatrists often recommend orthotic insoles to provide relief in these types of foot pain problems.
The tendon joining the calf muscle and the heel bone is called the Achilles Tendon, and is the largest tendon in our bodies. This tendon also supports most of the weight of our entire body. Intense or excessive sports activities involving the feet, and in certain cases, arthritis may cause this type of foot pain. In cases where over-pronation contributes to the problem, orthotic insoles are recommended to help relieve these types of foot pain problems. Adequate rest and exercises to strengthen the calf muscles are often helpful in the healing process.
If your foot pain problems worsen or become chronic despite the use of orthotic insoles, it is recommended that you consult with a podiatrist.