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Foot Care Information

 

Find Your Foot Pain

Use our foot pain finder page to locate the area of your foot problem and find the conditions associated with your area of pain.

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Foot drawing with bones labeled

Plantar Fasciitis and Heel Pain
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain and is characterized by sharp pain in the heel at the first step in the morning. Plantar fasciitis is the tearing and inflammation of a long ligament in the bottom of the foot. This ligament-type structure is called the plantar fascia and supports the arch.

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Area of Heel Pain Image

Bunions
A bunion is a structural change in the foot, resulting in a bone deformity at the great toe joint.  Bunions are caused by abnormalities in foot structure and mechanics and exacerbated by wearing inappropriate shoes. Bunions develop slowly over time and the pain is generally a dull, achy pain experienced with walking and at rest. In tight or narrow shoes, the pain may be sharp at the inside of the great toe joint, due to pressure from the shoes.  

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Bunion diagrams before and after common bunion surgery

Tendonitis/tendinosis
Tendonitis is microscopic tears in the tendon due to overuse, resulting in inflammation and pain and potentially degeneration and dysfunction of the tendon. Once the tendon starts to degenerate, the condition is termed tendinosis. The most common tendinitis in the foot and ankle is Achilles tendonitis. Posterior tibial tendonitis is also common.

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Achilles tendonitis diagram labeled

 

Ball of Foot Pain
Metatarsalgia, 2nd metatarsal overload syndrome, sesamoiditis and neuromas are all common problems in the ball of the foot. Metatarsalgia is a general term describing pain across the ball of the foot. Second metatarsal overload syndrome is a result of hypermobility of the first ray. Sesamoiditis causes pain and inflammation under the great toe joint and a neuroma is an inflamed nerve in the bottom of the foot causing tingling, burning and pain.

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Ball of foot pain metatarsalgia image

Cause of Common Foot Problems
Most foot problems are caused by faulty mechanics in the foot and related to overpronation and tight calf muscles. Tight calf muscle lead to the heel rising early during the walking cycle, forcing the midfoot to collapse, elevating the first ray and over-stressing the Achilles tendon, the posterior tibial tendon and the ball of the foot.

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Midfoot Collapse as a result of a tight heel cord

Athletes's Foot
Foot fungus is characterized by peeling, scaling, redness and itching on the bottom of the foot and in between the toes. The medical term for foot fungus is tinea pedia. There are many home remedies and over the counter treatments that will eliminate foot fungus and the key to treatment is preventing re-infection.

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Fungus between the toes is called interdigital tinea pedis

Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus is characterized by thick, yellow and brown discolored toenails. The thickness of the nail can cause pressure and pain in shoes. Fungal toenails are more common in athletes, diabetics and seniors. Some individuals are inherently more susceptible to developing fungal infections. The medical term for toenail fungus is onychomycosis.

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Severe toenail fungus affecting the entire nail

Neuromas
A neuroma is an inflamed nerve in the ball of the foot which causes sharp pain that can radiate to the toes. Common symptoms of a neuroma are burning, tingling, numbness and radiating pain to the 3rd and 4th toes. The ball of the foot may feel numb, or there may be a feeling of walking on a lump or lamp cord.

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Neuroma image showing the inflammed nerve in the foot

Corns and Calluses
Both corns and calluses are a build up of dead tissue by the body in response to pressure and friction. Corns develop on the top and in between toes, while calluses build up on the bottom and sides of the feet. The combination of foot deformities, abnormal foot mechanics and ill-fitting shoes contributes to the development of corns and calluses.

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 Corn in between toes labeled

Warts
A wart is a growth caused by a virus called the human papillomavirus (HPV). The medical name for wart is verrucae.There are many types of warts, common warts, which are dome shaped and flesh colored, flat warts which appear as clusters of flat lesions, periungual warts which occur around the toenails, mosiac warts which appear as large clusters or plaques and digitate warts, an uncommon type of wart found on the toes.  

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Image of a wart on the bottom of the foot

Hammertoes
Hammertoes are crooked toes that develop gradually over time as a result of tendon imbalance. Corns can develop on top of the toes causing pain and pain can develop under the ball of the foot, causing a retrograde force and excess pressure and inflammation at the joint.

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 Hammertoe Illustration

Flatfeet
The characteristic sign of a flatfoot is the low arch. A flatfoot is the result of bone structure, abnormal foot mechanics and tendon dysfunction. There may be very little pain or pain under the arch, heel or midfoot. Flatfeet are associated with conditions such as plantar fasciitis, posterior tibial tendonitis and midfoot arthritis.

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 Flatfoot X-ray image labeled

Ingrown Toenails
An ingrown nail is a curved nail which presses on the surrounding skin causes redness, pain and inflammation. Ingrown nails are commonly caused by narrow shoes, overuse activities and repetitive microtrauma to the toenail. Some individuals are born with a natural susceptibility to developing ingrown nails.

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Ingrown toenail mild deformity shown

Toenail Anatomy
Information, images and diagrams of the basic anatomy of a nail, including the nail plate, nail bed, matrix, lunula and cuticle.

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Toenail anatomy image

Arthritis
Arthritis is the deterioration of the cartilage with
inflammation of the tissues surrounding the joint area. The common areas for arthritis in the foot are at the great toe joint, the midfoot and ankle. Pain can be dull and achy or sharp and stabbing depending on the severity and location.

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Drawing of a normal joint

Stress Fractures
A stress fracture is an incomplete break of the bone and are generally a result of repetitive stress, not trauma. The most common areas in the foot for stress fractures are the metatarsals, the long bones of the foot.

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Stress fracture on X-ray in metatarsal bone in foot

Ankle Sprains
An ankle sprain is the partial or complete tearing of the ligaments in the ankle, most commonly on the outside of the ankle. The tearing results from a twisting injury, called an inversion ankle sprain.The treatment is dependent on the severity of the sprain.

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Ankle sprain in a hiker on trail

Shin Splints
"Shin splints" is a general term used to describe pain on the shin bone. The most common cause for this type of pain is inflammation of the sheath surrounding the shin bone (the tibia). Shin pain can result from medial tibial stress syndrome, chronic compartment syndrome or a stress fracture.

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Anterior shin splints in a runner

Shoes
Shoes should be rigid through the midsole and flexible at the toes. Shoes can be a cause of common foot problems and wearing a shoe which is too flexible can worsen foot conditions. This informational page gives tips for choosing the right shoe.

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Shoe Anatomy with areas labeled

Foot Care Tips
General foot care recommendations for maintaining healthy feet, including washing, trimming toenails and choosing the correct shoes. 

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Toenail trimming picture

Diabetic Foot Care
Diabetics have many foot problems, including problems with circulation, neuropathy, ulcerations and amputations. This informational page gives information on diabetic foot conditions and ways to prevent diabetic foot complications.

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Image of a diabetic toe ulcer

Foot Anatomy
The foot is a complex structure of 28 bones (26 main bones and two small bones under the big toe), over 100 ligaments, multiple muscles and tendons which all work together to hold the weight of the entire body and help propel the human body.

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 Anatomy bones of the foot labeled

Biomechanics
Images and explanations on foot terminology and basic mechanics of the foot: medial, lateral, anterior, posterior, distal, proximal, dorsiflexion, plantarflexion, abduction, adduction, inversion, eversion, supination and pronation.

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Dorsiflexion of the foot

Foot Problems in Runners
Runners have a range of foot problems, including plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, foot and toenail fungus, stress fractures, ankle sprains, blisters, shin splints, nerve impingement, thick and black toenails.

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Foot problems in runners

Foot Care Tips for Hikers
Tips for treatment and prevention of blisters, ankle sprains, corns and calluses and recommendations for choosing the correct hiking boot.

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Hikers beautiful view

Medical Dictionary
Definitions and descriptions of common terms and conditions relating to the foot and ankle.

Medical dictionary of foot terms

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