Talk to your doctor

If you experience persistent foot pain or if your foot pain is severe enough to prevent you from doing everyday activities, you should see your doctor. Your physician will examine your feet to determine the cause of your foot pain so that it can be treated more effectively. If required, your doctor will refer you to a podiatrist (a doctor that specializes in feet). The podiatrist may create orthotics (insoles custom made to support the shape of your foot and correct foot problems) and will also direct you in the proper type of shoe, foot appliance and/or sock which will help your foot condition.

Arthritic Foot

Arthritis is characterized by the inflammation of the lining and cartilage of the body's joints, and is a major cause of back and shoulder pain.  In many cases, when foot-related, wearing a light weight supportive shoe will enable people to walk and exercise with minimal pain.

There are many different types of Arthritis. Osteoarthritis, Gout, and Rheumatoid, and as many causes. Heredity plays a major role along with bacterial and viral infections.

Forefoot problems such as hammer toes, claw toes, bunions, and mallet toes often develop as a result of arthritis. Pain may develop in the ankle and heel area due in part to the erosion of the joints in the ankle.

Choose light weight, extra depth shoes with removable insoles to accommodate orthotics and which allow space for toe movement and swelling. Rocker soles help to facilitate walking and reduce pain at the ball of the foot.

Forefoot supports such as gel toe caps, shields, and toe straighteners are helpful to reduce pain as well.

Bunions

Also known as Hallux Vallgus, bunions are one of the more common forefoot problems. A bunion is a prominent bump located on the inside of the foot on or near the big toe joint.

There are a number of causes for bunions; some of the more common are wearing improper fitting shoes, arthritis, and heredity.

The best way to alleviate pain associated with bunions is to wear properly fitted shoes, designed with a high, wide toe box with a substantial arch support.

Shoes with rocker soles help to unload pressure on the bunion area.

Other conservative treatments to relieve pressure on the joint are bunion night splints, bunion shields, and bunion bandages.

Diabetic foot / Neuropathy

Diabetes is a serious condition that can develop from lack of insulin production in the body. Insulin is produced by the pancreas gland that helps process the food we eat and turn it into energy. Diabetes disrupts the vascular system, affecting many areas of the body such as the eyes, kidneys, legs and feet.

Neuropathy is a related foot condition, and can cause insensitivity or a loss of ability to feel pain, heat and cold. Diabetics suffering from neuropathy should examine their feet daily for ulcers, cuts, blisters or pressure sores that left unattended may lead to infection and in many cases amputation.

Treatment and prevention. Footwear and orthotics play an important role in diabetic foot care. Listed below are some protective measures:

  1. Extra depth toe box.
  2. Removable insoles for the option to insert orthotics.
  3. Rocker soles to reduce pressure in the fore foot.
  4. Firm heel counters for support and stability.
  5. Have your shoes accurately fit by a person trained in footcare and correct sizing.

Hammer Toes

Hammer Toes result from a muscle imbalance causing the ligaments and tendons to become tight resulting in the joint curling downward. Arthritis can lead to many forefoot deformities, including hammer toes.

There are two types of hammer toes: flexible and rigid.

In a flexible hammer toe, the joint has the ability to move and can be straightened manually. With a rigid hammer toe, movement is very limited and can be extremely painful, sometimes causing foot movement to become restricted and often causing corns and calluses.

The correct choice of foot wear is extremely important to accommodate hammer toes. Shoes with a deeper and wider toe box are required to avoid friction against the toes and to accommodate devices such as hammer toe crests and splints. Gel toe shields and gel toe caps as well as toe spacers are also recommended to help eliminate friction between the shoe and the toe.

As with any foot problems that persist, consult your podiatrist or podorthosist

Heel Spurs

The heel bone is the largest bone in the foot and absorbs the most amounts of shock and pressure. Calcium deposits form when the plantar fascia pulls away from the heel area causing bony protrusion or a heel spur to develop. Heel spurs can cause extreme pain when walking or standing. There are however many aids to help relieve the pain such as an orthotic with rear foot posting and longitudinal arch support to reduce over pronation.

Wearing shoes with a cushioned heel will help absorb shock, while elevating the heel with the use of a heel cup or cradle will provide extra comfort and cushion to the heel and reduce the amount of shock and shear forces experienced from every day activities.

Morton's Neuroma / Metatarsalgia

A common foot problem associated with pain, swelling or an inflammation of a nerve, usually at the ball of the foot. Symptoms of this condition include sharp pain, burning and in many cases tingling, numbness, and cramping in the fore foot.

Proper choice and fitting of footwear is extremely important -- shoes with pointed toes and high heels should be replaced with a rounder, higher toe box and flat, broader heels.

Constricting shoes can pinch the nerve between the toes, causing extreme pain. An orthotic designed with a metatarsal pad is ideal to unload pressure and relieve the pain caused by the neuroma.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is an inflammation often caused by excessive stretching of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a broad band of fibrous tissue which runs along the bottom surface of the foot.

The excessive stretching of the plantar fascia leads to inflammation and discomfort, which may be caused by the following:

  1. Over-pronation (flat feet) which results in the arch collapsing upon weight bearing.
  2. A foot with an unusually high arch.
  3. An increase in physical activity.
  4. Excessive weight on the arch, often during pregnancy.
  5. Improperly fitting footwear.

If you experience plantar fasciitis, cushion the heel to absorb shock by elevating the heel with the use of a heel cradle or heel cup.

An orthotic with rear foot posting and longitudinal arch support is an effective device to reduce the over-pronation and allow the condition to heal.

Pregnancy and Your Feet

Edema and over-pronation are two of the more common problems during pregnancy, often leading to heel and arch pain. Many women also experience leg cramping and varicose veins due in part to weight gain. Because of this, footcare is extremely important to make this nine month period a more comfortable time.

Choose shoes with a removable insole to accommodate orthotics. Various foot conditions, such as plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and bunions may develop during pregnancy but can be treated with the proper orthotic.

Compression stockings will aid in the prevention of swelling and help with tired, aching feet and legs. Walking is the best exercise to promote overall health, which can only be accomplished in a comfortable well fitting shoe.