Common Foot Problems

There are many causes of foot pain. We have listed some of the more common ones below. All of these problems are treatable.

Heel Pain:

The most common cause is abnormal motion in your foot which leads to too much stress on a thick ligament on the bottom of the foot (plantar fascia). It is commonly referred to as plantar fasciitis. Inherited muscle imbalances, heel injury, improper shoes, excessive weight, nerve problems in the ankle (Tarsal tunnel-similar to carpal tunnel) back problems and arthritic conditions can all be contributors of heel pain.

plantar fasciitis - heel spur syndrome

Since it tends to be a recurring problem, one of the most reliable, effective and practical treatments is a prescription orthotic made by your podiatrist. Stretching your achilles tendon, ice massage to the heel, anti-inflammatory pills, night splints, cortisone injections, ultrasound and rocker bottom shoes such as the “Shape Ups” all are good methods of controlling the pain. However, most of us don’t want to do this forever. An orthotic is much simpler and practical. You simply put them from shoe to shoe and the pain goes away in 90% of the time. Orthotics also last for several years of faithful performance.

Ingrown Nails:

An inflamed, reddened, painful area usually along the border of the nail can occur in any nail but is most common in the big toe. This can be a very serious problem in someone who is diabetic or has poor circulation. There are many reasons for an ingrown nail. Genetics from your parents is one but another is self treatment.

ingrown nails

Having a pedicurist cut out the ingrown nail is also asking for trouble, continued problem and possible infection. It doesn’t matter what age, child or geriatric, the best treatment is to have a podiatrist simply remove a thin section of the outer border permanently so you don’t have a life long reoccurrence of this simple fix problem.


An enlargement of the big toe joint. They can be mild, moderate, or severe. The most common cause is an abnormal motion of the foot called pronation (a turning in of the inside part of the arch area, which then tends to flatten out, this will “loosen the bones of the foot,” and eventually in some people lead to a bunion deformity.

They are hereditary, and can be prevented in some patients. It is very important that they be treated, if left untreated they will eventually interfere with the quality of life and will affect walking and standing, as well as back problems. Bunions invariably are progressive becoming larger and the big toe becoming more crooked impinging on the second toe or the second toe eventually over ridding onto the crooked big toe.

Corns and Calluses:

Are thickened areas of skin on a hammertoe or under a toe joint at the fore foot. They can be soft, between toes, or hard, usually on the top of a toe. They are the body’s response to too much pressure in an area. They usually occur over bony prominences or in areas where there is too much friction. The more common areas on the foot are on the top of the second toe next to the big toe or on the baby toe (seed corn). They can be associated with redness, pain, and swelling (bursitis). They can be disabling, and in a diabetic can lead to serious complications if left untreated.


Are the results of abnormal contraction and a muscle imbalance that leaves your toe in a bent position. Once hammertoes stiffen they can rub against the shoe and cause pain from inflammation in the joint area. This is commonly known as bursitis. You may also notice a corn or callus on the top on the hammertoe.

They can be aggravated by shoes or socks which do not fit properly. There are a variety of treatments for hammertoes which range from padding, cortisone injection for temporary relief and in some cases surgery is necessary to straighten the toe, permanently fixing it.

Arch Problems:

Arch pain can be caused by a foot that has no arch, flat foot (pes planus), or a high arch (pes cavus). It is important that anyone with either of these foot types be evaluated to be sure there is no underlying problem that may give rise to more serious problems later in life.


It is most important that any child with a flat or high arch foot be evaluated. The sooner the better. Ninety percent of adult foot problems can be prevented if they are diagnosed and treated soon enough in a young child’s foot.


An inflammation of a sensory nerve in the foot ( a sensory nerve gives you the ability to sense pain). It is most common between the 3rd and 4th toes. Symptoms can range from mild aching pain, burning to disabling pain. Usually made worse in tight shoes, walking bare foot on a hard surface or just standing and walking.

They can be treated non-surgically with a cortisone injection, flat wide shoes, orthotics or rest. If the pain persists and you are tired of putting up with the pain, a neuroma can be simply removed in the office or out patient basis. The recovery is usually in 2-4 weeks.

Warts (Plantars Wart):

These are caused by a virus know as HPV or human papilloma virus. Children, Teens, and people with weakened immune systems are most often affected. The most common area on the foot is the bottom or plantar surface. Depending on where these are they can be very painful to treat. It is usually not necessary to surgically remove them if they are an isolated wart. Most of the time these can be treated locally with topical medicines.


A disease of the sensory and motor nerves that result in burning, stinging, numbness, or tingling that is worse at night time. This is commonly associated with Diabetes, but can also be related to hereditary causes called HSMN (hereditary sensory motor neuropathy), Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), Alcoholism, Heavy metals (such as lead), Chemotherapeutic agents used to treat cancers, and exposure to certain chemicals. The treatment usually involves medication to control the burning pain.

Poor Circulation (Peripheral Vascular Disease):

This commonly can cause symptoms such as cramping, and aching in the calves, or even buttocks area when walking. In severe cases some people can not even walk twenty feet. This is commonly a disease seen in diabetics and in smokers. Collagen Vascular Disease like Lupus, and Scleroderma can also affect circulation, as well as sickle cell anemia. There are now many advanced diagnostic tests available that can give doctors much more information than just a few short years ago. There are also many recent developments that in some case can restore the circulation with minimally invasive procedures.


This is the most common form of arthritis known and is commonly referred to as DJD (degenerative joint disease) or OA. It is usually caused from an injury or inherited. The most common area in the foot is the big toe joint know as (hallux limitus). This is usually caused by a structural problem with the bone behind the big toe called the metatarsal. The treatments include anti-inflammatory medications, orthotics, fusion or replacement of the joint with an artificial prosthesis usually made out of titanium.