Your feet are constantly carrying your entire body weight around, so it’s no wonder that they sometimes start to ache. However, while a little discomfort here and there is totally normal, certain types of foot pain can actually be warning signs of more serious health issues.
That’s why it’s important to be aware of the different types of foot pain and what they could mean. Here are six types of foot pain you should never ignore.
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1. Heel Spurs
One of the most common types of heel pain is heel spurs. It occurs when a small bony growth develops on the heel bone. This growth is usually the result of repetitive stress on the heel, such as from running or wearing shoes that don’t provide enough support.
Although heel spurs don’t always cause symptoms, when they do, they can be quite painful. If you have heel pain that doesn’t go away with home treatment and over-the-counter medication, it could be a sign of a heel spur.
2. Ingrown Toenail
Ingrown toenails occur when the edges of your nails grow into the flesh around them. This can happen as a result of injury, improperly trimmed nails, or poorly fitting shoes. Symptoms include redness, swelling, and pain around the affected nail.
To treat an ingrown toenail at home:
- You should soak your feet in warm water for 10 minutes 3 to 4 times a day to soften the nail
- Use over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen, to ease the pain
- Apply a topical antibiotic or a steroid cream to prevent infection
- Wear sandals or other open shoes to allow your toe to breathe and allow the area to heal
If you are experiencing any signs of infection or difficulty walking, please see your doctor.
Also, read: 6 Remedies for Ingrown Toenails
3. Achilles Tendonitis
The Achilles tendon is the large tendon at the back of your ankle that connects your calf muscle to your heel bone. Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation or irritation of this tendon, and it’s a common cause of foot pain.
Achilles tendonitis typically occurs as a result of overuse or injury and is marked by pain and stiffness in the Achilles tendon area. If you have Achilles tendonitis, you might also hear a popping or creaking sound when moving your ankle or feel like your heel is “giving out.”
4. Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It occurs when the plantar fascia—a ligament that runs along the bottom of your foot—becomes irritated or inflamed. This can happen due to overuse (such as from running), repetitive stress injuries, or shoes that don’t provide enough arch support.
People with plantar fasciitis often describe the pain as feeling like there’s a stone bruise on their foot or like they’re walking on needles. The pain is usually worst first thing in the morning or after periods of extended sitting.
Arthritis occurs when there’s inflammation in the joints and can lead to joint pain and stiffness. There are many different types of arthritis, but osteoarthritis—the wear-and-tear kind that usually comes with age—is one of the most common forms to affect the feet.
People with arthritis often experience throbbing foot pain that gets worse with activity. The big toe joint is especially susceptible to arthritis because it has to bear much of your body weight every time you take a step.
You might also notice that your toe joints are stiffer than usual and appear swollen or red.
A bunion is an enlargement where the big toe joint meets the first metatarsal bone (the long bone in front of your big toe). Bunions form when this joint becomes misaligned so that your big toe starts pointing inward toward your second toe (this process is known as valgus deformity).
Over time, continued pressure on this joint causes it to become even more misshapen until a visible bunion appears on top of it.
In addition to being unsightly, bunions can cause redness, swelling, soreness, and sharp pains in the big toe joint. They can also make it difficult to wear certain types of shoes.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, bunion pain is relieved by:
- Wearing wide shoes
- Using ibuprofen and naproxen to help ease pain and decrease swelling
- Applying ice to relieve pain and swelling
- Using a bunion pad to relieve irritation
Your doctor may also recommend wearing supportive shoes, wearing an orthotic shoe insert to balance the pressure on your foot, using steroid injections near the joint, as well as physical therapy.
7. Corns and Calluses
Corns and calluses are areas of thickened skin that develop in response to friction and pressure. They often form on the toes and balls of the feet. To treat corns and calluses, the American Academy of Dermatology Association recommended:
- Soaking the area in warm water for 10 minutes several times a day
- Applying lotion or cream with salicylic acid to soften the skin
- Use padding to relieve pressure on the area
- Wearing shoes that fit properly
If your corns or calluses do not improve with home treatments, see a podiatrist who can remove them safely.
Foot pain is often caused by overuse or injury, but sometimes it could be a sign of something more serious. If you experience any persistent foot pay, you should see a doctor to check whether something more serious is going on. Don’t ignore any symptoms which make you concerned about your health condition.
Also read: 7 Simple Tips to Relieve Foot Pain