Foot Conditions

Why do foot problems start?

The foot possesses an amazing support mechanism. However, the low arch, pronating foot is simply unable to support itself as this system fails. As the force reaches its peak on the ball of the foot the heel lifts, the arch collapses and all supporting muscles and ligaments become susceptible to injury. Our feet support our whole body weight so when things go wrong this can cause problems elsewhere the body. At the same time, changes in body posture can lead to problems in the feet.

Corns, bunions, fallen arches or heel pain

If you suffer from obvious foot problems such as corns, bunions, fallen arches or heel pain there is 80% chance that you have or will develop a postural problem which can result in foot, hip, back or knee pain, which may lead to ‘wear and tear’ arthritis. Our Feet are more fundamental to our health than most people realise and treating them with care and respect will only benefit you in the long term.

If you suffer from painful feet you are far from being alone.

 Many people suffer from painful feet, but most wait until the pain becomes unbearable before addressing the problem. Our orthopaedic shoe specialists will be able to advise you on the best course of action for your individual needs and according to the severity of the foot pain or other problem.

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Common foot problems causing painful feet

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Plantar Fasciitis (heel pain)

 

Commonly traced to an inflammation of the base of the foot. People with very flat feet or very high arches are also more prone to plantar fasciitis. If you don’t treat plantar fasciitis, it may become a chronic condition. Because plantar fasciitis  changes the way you walk, you may develop symptoms of foot, knee, hip and back problems.

Symtoms

 

Pain is the main symptom. This can be anywhere on the underside of the heel. Commonly, one spot if found as the main source of pain. This is often about 4cm forward from the heel, and may be tender to touch.

 

The pain usually eases on resting the foot, but is often worse when first used in the morning or after long periods where no weight is placed on the foot. Gentle exercise may ease things a little as the day goes by, but a long walk often makes the pain worse.

Foot Pronation (Arch pain)

 

The arch of the foot is supported by a tough ligament-like band called the plantar fascia. It follows the contours of the sole of the foot and helps to return energy into our step. When the arch of the foot is forced to lower too much it can become damaged and small tears appear. This causes inflammation (plantar fasciitis), which creates pain. The pain occurs more frequently in the morning and after rest. Plantar fasciitis is found to affect more women than men.

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Foot Pronation (Heel Pain)

 

Heel pain is a very common complaint. Heel pain may be due to walking on hard surfaces, irritation of the nerve supplying the skin under the heel, inflammation of the fat pad and arthritis of the joints around the rear foot.

 

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The plantar fascia is anchored to the underside of the heel bone and continue stretching caused by excessive pronation can cause inflammation and pain. This may give rise to a heel spur. A similar problem can arise within the Achilles  tendon at the back of the ankle. Because there are several potential causes, it is important to have heel pain properly diagnosed.

1st toe joint pain due to foot pronation

 

Excessive pronation causes more pressure to fall on the inner border of the foot as the foot roles inwards. This high pressure prevents the big toe joint from bending correctly as we walk.

 

The joint becomes locked causing inflammation (arthritis) or it may buckle (hallux valgus) and cause a swelling at the side of the joint known as a bunion.

 

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Foot Pronation (Ball of foot Pain)

 

If the foot is pronated excessively, pressure is not distributed if the foot is pronated evenly across the ball of the foot. Uneven pressure and stresses may produce a local reaction in the skin causing callus arthritis and hammer toes or between the joints causing trapping of the nerve (Morton’s neuroma). For this problem orthotics reduce the pressure over the painful area and relieve foot pain.

 

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Foot Pronation (Ankle Pain)

 

Most ankle sprains affect the outer side of the ankle, which has just three small ligaments supporting it.The method of injury is a turning of the foot inwards at the ankle (an inversion sprain).

 

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There are two types of ankle sprains, and if left untreated they can cause a lifetime of pain and disability:

  • In the first foot type, these ligaments are weak or thin, they cannot provide proper support, and any twist or turn of the ankle will tear or injure these ligaments, causing a painful sprain. Each subsequent sprain will weaken these ligaments further.
  • In the second foot type susceptible to ankle sprains is the pronated foot (the foot rolls inwards and you walk on the inner side of your foot). This foot type causes a shortening and weakening of the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle. Thus, any twist of the ankle will injure and stretch these shortened ligaments until they tear, causing

Leg pain due to foot pronation

 

As the foot rolls over and the heel bone tilts, the leg bones will also twist inwards. The muscles in the leg will work to control this movement and will become strained if the foot rolls too much. This causes the muscles to become fatigued and patients often describe a feeling of “tired and aching legs”. In severe cases the muscles will pull on the leg bones causing a reaction that is more painful called shin splints.

Achilles Tendonitis

 

Achilles Tendonitis Irritation and inflammation of the tendon that attaches to the back heel bone. This can be caused by improper warm up or over training. Treatment for achilles tendonitis. Chronic pain or any swelling should be professionally examined. We can make you arch support inserts or orthotic inserts.

Bunions

 

Misaligned big toe joints which can become swollen, causing the first joint of the big toe to slant outward, and the second joint to angle towards the other toes. Bunions tend to be hereditary; they can be aggravated by shoes that are too narrow in the forefoot area.

 

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Treatment for bunions

 

Surgery by a podiatric physician is often used to correct the problem or shoes for bunions is a surgery free solution.

Hammertoe

 

A condition that usually stems from muscle / tendon imbalance, in which the toe is bent in a claw like position. It occurs most often with the second toe, when a bunion slants the big toe towards and under it, although the other three toes can be affected.

 

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Treatment for hammertoe

 

Selecting shoes and socks that do not cramp the toes will alleviate the problem. A custom orthotic device placed in the shoe may help control the muscle / tendon imbalance.

Heel spurs

 

Growths of bone on the underside of the heel bone. Heel spurs occur when the plantar tendon pulls at its attachment to the heel bone. This area of the heel can calcify to form a spur, which can lead to heel pain.

 

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Treatment for heel spurs

 

With proper warm-ups and the use of trainers, strain to the ligament can be reduced leading to reduction of the heel spur and reduction in heel pain

Neuromas

 

Enlarged benign growths of nerves, common between the third and fourth toes. These are caused by tissue rubbing against the nerves. Pressure from ill fitting shoes or abnormal bones can also create this condition as well.

 

Treatment of neuromas

 

Treatments can include orthotics, although sometimes removal of the growth is necessary.

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