Foot Pain

Foot pain is a very common problem. About 75% of people in the U.S. have foot pain at some time in their lives. Most foot pain is caused by shoes that do not fit properly or force the feet into unnatural shapes (such as pointed-toe, high-heel shoes). The force exerted on the foot with each step is about 50% greater than the persons body weight. In a typical day, the feet support several hundred tons.

The foot is a complex structure of 26 bones and 33 joints, layered with an intertwining web of over 120 muscles, ligaments, and nerves. It serves to support weight, act as a shock absorber, propels the legs forward and helps to maintain balance by adjusting the body to uneven surfaces.

Since the feet are very small compared with the rest of the body, the impact of each step exerts tremendous force upon them. This force is about 50% greater than the person's body weight. During a typical day, people spend about 4 hours on their feet and take 8,000 - 10,000 steps. This means that the feet support a combined force equivalent to several hundred tons every day.

Given what the foot must endure, it is not surprising that about 75% of Americans experience foot pain at some point in their lives. According to one study, chronic and severe foot pain is a serious burden for one in seven older disabled women. To compound problems, the lower back is often affected by injuries or abnormalities in the feet.There are many causes of foot pain, but when most people talk about foot pain they are describing symptoms that cause pain under the "ball of the foot." When foot pain occurs under the ball of the foot, the medical term is metatarsalgia. Metatarsalgia occurs in the region between the arch and the toes. The medical term for foot pain, metatarsalgia, comes from the name of the bones that are in this part of the foot: the metatarsals. The metatarsals are long bones at the base of each toe. Sometimes pressure on the ends of the metatarsal bones causes symptoms in the ball of the foot.

Foot pain can be caused by increased pressure on the metatarsal heads. This can be due to constricting foot wear or high heel shoes. If you have pain under the ball of your foot, try wearing shoes that have a wider toe box.

Other conditions that can cause foot pain include ligament injuries and joint irritation. These problems can also be relieved with more accommodating footwear.

Shoe Size Changes
Wearing correctly sized shoes could cure many foot pain problems. Feet change in size during the day (larger late in the day) and with the weather (smaller during cold weather). In addition, the size and shape of feet change with age. Older people should not assume they wear the same size shoe as when they were younger. Before buying new shoes, they should have their feet measured.

Diabetic Foot Problems
Most hospitalizations of people with diabetes are due to foot problems. Several factors commonly affecting diabetic patients can cause serious foot problems, such as poor circulation that inhibits wound healing and nerve problems leading to decreased sensation in the feet and legs.

Foot Injuries
Foot injuries are very common and often result from athletic activities. It is important to wear the right shoe for the specific sport. For example, a running shoe that is cushioned may not offer the support necessary for playing tennis.

Treatment of foot pain often consists of physiotherapy, rehabilitation, footwear modifications, and inserts for your shoes. When buying footwear, look for shoes with a wide toebox, good support, and avoid high heels. Simple inserts can help with many types of foot pain. Metatarsal pads are best for the treatment of metatarsalgia. These pads help to take pressure off the ball of the foot. If some simple steps do not alleviate your symptoms, you should see your doctor to ensure you are receiving adequate treatment.