Hartford Hospital

Conditions In Depth

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The foot is a complex structure of 26 bones, 33 joints, and many muscles, ligaments, and nerves. Only a small number of Americans are born with foot problems. Most problems are due to neglect and poor care, including ill-fitting shoes. With age, changes occur in the feet. Some disorders begin early in life and are affected by heredity, walking patterns, and land features. Many Americans will have foot pain at some point in their lives.

Normal Anatomy of the Left Foot

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Common causes of foot pain include:

  • Poor-fitting shoes
  • High-heeled shoes
  • Poor posture
  • High impact exercise (such as running)

Foot pain may also be caused by systemic disease, such as:

  • Arthritis ( osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)—Arthritis can cause stiffness and reduced range of motion.
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease —This condition affects the legs and feet by causing reduced blood flow, swelling, and increased risk of infection.
  • Diabetes —A common complication of diabetes is reduced blood flow, which causes a number of problems in the legs and feet including abnormal sensation, swelling, and increased risk of infection.
  • Gout —Gout may cause pain and swelling in the great toe.

For descriptions of many common types of foot pain, click here.

References:

Foot care. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/foot-complications/foot-care.html. Accessed December 28, 2012.

Foot care. National Institute on Aging website. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/foot-care. Updated April 18, 2012. Accessed December 28, 2012.

Foot care 101. American Podiatric Medical Association site. Available at: http://www.apma.org/files/FileDownloads/myFEETFootCare101.pdf. Accessed December 28, 2012.

Foot care basics: preventing and treating common foot conditions. Harvard Medical School website. Available at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/special_health_reports/Foot_Care_Basics. Accessed December 28, 2012.

Last reviewed November 2012 by Brian Randall, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.