At the Foot and Ankle Clinic of Australia, we’re committed to providing you with the information you need to understand and maintain the health of your feet. This week, we’re focusing on some common foot problems and their causes. By gaining knowledge of these issues, you can take steps to avoid them, thereby keeping your feet in their best shape.
Common Foot Problems and Their Causes
- Plantar Fasciitis: This is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes (the plantar fascia). Plantar fasciitis typically causes a stabbing pain that usually occurs with your first steps in the morning. Causes include age, certain types of exercise (like long-distance running), foot mechanics (flat feet, high arches, or an abnormal walking pattern), and obesity.
- Bunions: These are bony bumps that develop on the joint at the base of your big toe. They form when your big toe pushes against your next toe, forcing the joint of your big toe to stick out. The skin over the bunion might be red and sore. Wearing tight or narrow shoes can cause bunions or make them worse. Bunions also can develop as a result of an inherited structural defect or a medical condition, such as arthritis.
- Ingrown Toenails: This condition occurs when the corners or sides of your toenails grow into the skin next to the nail. This can result in pain, redness, and swelling. The main cause of ingrown toenails is improper trimming. Cutting your nails too short or not straight across might cause them to grow into the skin.
- Athlete’s Foot: This is a contagious fungal infection that affects the skin on the feet. It can also spread to the toenails and the hands. The condition is characterized by a scaly rash that usually causes itching, stinging, and burning. Athlete’s foot is commonly contracted in public places where people go barefoot, such as public showers or swimming pools.
- Hammertoes: A hammertoe is a toe that is bent because of a weakened muscle. The weakened muscle makes the tendons (tissues that connect muscles to bone) shorter, causing the toes to curl under the feet. Hammertoes can run in families and can also be caused by shoes that are too short.
Remember, understanding common foot problems and their causes is a vital aspect of maintaining healthy feet. Regular foot care, including washing and moisturizing your feet, trimming your toenails properly, and wearing appropriate footwear, is also critical for foot health.