10 Common Foot Disorders

Apr 10, 2019 1:00:54 PM / by Voyage Healthcare Team posted in Family Medicine, Health Tips

Your feet are made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles and tendons. They get you from one place to another, but they also take a lot of daily abuse.

On average, a person will walk roughly 100,000 miles in their lifetime, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).

Whether you’re walking, running, or jumping, your feet are constantly subjected to risk of damage or injury. With such a complex system of tissues and the amount of weight we place on our feet every day, it’s no surprise that nearly everyone will experience a foot problem at some point in their lifetime.


Feet come in all shapes and sizes, and there are a wide variety of foot-related conditions you may experience:

  1. Athlete’s foot
  2. Blisters
  3. Bunions
  4. Plantar fasciitis
  5. Gout
  6. Ingrown toenails
  7. Corns and calluses
  8. Stone bruises
  9. Morton’s neuroma
  10. Diabetic neuropathy

Below we’ll highlight these 10 common foot conditions, as well as their causes, symptoms, and treatments.

The following are some of the most common foot conditions:

1. Athlete’s foot

Athlete’s foot is a highly contagious fungal infection that thrives in warm and damp areas. You can get athlete’s foot by exposing your feet to the fungus or contaminated surfaces.

Causes of athlete’s foot include exposure to:

  • Gyms
  • Communal showers
  • Pools
  • Walking around barefoot
  • Wearing shoes that are warm and/or damp
  • Wearing socks or shoes worn by someone with the fungus

Symptoms of athlete’s foot include:

  • Itching
  • Stinging
  • Burning
  • Cracking
  • Peeling skin
  • Foot blisters

Treatments for athlete’s foot:

Because athlete’s foot is contagious, it can be challenging to treat. There are plenty of over-the-counter antifungal sprays, powders, or lotions available at your local drugstore or pharmacy which can help manage the symptoms.

If your athlete’s foot persists or gets worse, you may need to see a podiatrist to get a prescription for an antifungal medication.

2. Blisters

Blisters are common and occur when raised, fluid-filled pockets appear on the skin. This condition is generally not serious and can be taken care of at home.

Causes of blisters include:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Sweaty feet
  • Ill-fitting shoes
  • Frostbite
  • Allergic reaction
  • Herpes
  • Dyshidrotic eczema

Symptoms of blisters include:

  • Fluid-filled pockets of skin
  • Pain in the affected area

Treatments for blisters:

It is not advised to pop blisters. Rather, you should let them heal on their own.

If you’re experiencing a lot of discomfort, you may consider applying a bandage for relief. If you have to drain your blister, do so with proper sterile equipment and do not "de-roof" (remove) the skin while draining. Next, apply an antibiotic ointment and a bandage to protect your blister while it heals. 

If you’re having trouble with persistent blisters or you get blisters along with flu-like symptoms, speak with a podiatrist.

3. Bunions

Bunions occur when a large bump develops on the big toe joint causing the toe to turn inward.

Causes of bunions include:

  • Wearing tight and/or narrow shoes
  • Family history
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Polio

Symptoms of bunions include:

  • A visible bump on the side of the big toe
  • Tenderness around the big toe
  • Difficulty moving the big toe
  • Pain in the big toe when walking or running

Treatments for bunions include:

  • Wearing properly fitting shoes
  • Using a bunion pad

If symptoms persist, schedule an appointment with a podiatrist to discuss whether surgery is the best option for you.

4. Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia (on the bottom of the foot) becomes inflamed and causes heel pain.

Causes of plantar fasciitis include:

  • Obesity
  • High foot arch
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Repetitive activities that cause stress to the heel such as running

Symptoms of plantar fasciitis:

The primary symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain in the heel or the bottom of the foot. This pain usually worsens throughout the day making it difficult to walk.

Treatments for plantar fasciitis include:

  • Resting your feet
  • Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil), aspirin (Bayer), or naproxen (Aleve)
  • Stretching your feet throughout the day

If the pain does not subside, visit a podiatrist to see if physical therapy is needed. A podiatrist may also recommend using steroid injections or custom-made orthotics to provide support and help reduce inflammation.

5. Gout

Gout is a foot condition that primarily affects your big toe due to a build up of uric acid within the body.

Causes of gout include:

  • Blood disorders
  • Metabolism disorders
  • Kidney disorders
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Certain foods such as red meat, salt, and shellfish
  • Dehydration
  • Certain medications such as diuretics
  • Obesity

Symptoms of gout include:

  • Pain in the big toe
  • Intense pain in your joint
  • Swelling of your big toe

Treatments for gout include:

  • Lifestyle changes such as losing weight or quitting smoking
  • Dietary changes such as reducing consumption of red meats, sodium, and shellfish
  • Taking NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen
  • Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
  • Medications to reduce or eliminate uric acid

If none of these treatment options help alleviate your symptoms, visit a podiatrist to discuss other ways to address gout.

6. Ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails occur when the nail grows into the nail groove (grooved lines which run on the sides of your nails). This condition can cause pain and discomfort when walking.

Causes of ingrown toenails include:

  • Ill-fitting shoes
  • Trauma to the nail
  • Family history of ingrown toenails

Symptoms of ingrown toenails include:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling at the nail groove

Treatments for ingrown toenails:

You can prevent and alleviate ingrown nails by keeping your feet clean and dry, and wearing shoes that fit properly.

If your nail becomes infected or the pain does not subside, visit a podiatrist to discuss other treatment options such as antibiotics (to clear up an infection) or removing the nail.

7. Corns and calluses

Corns are small, thick, round sections of your skin that are usually located on your toes or the bottom of your foot.

Calluses are rough patches of skin on your foot, and they are usually found on the heel or ball of the foot.

The difference between the two is that calluses are bigger than corns and are typically yellow in color. While different in appearance, corns and calluses have similar causes and symptoms.

Causes of corns and calluses include:

  • Bunions
  • Ill-fitting shoes
  • Not wearing shoes
  • Hammer toe
  • Bony feet

Symptoms of corns and calluses:

Corns and calluses are generally painless, however, they may cause pain if left untreated.

Treatments for corns and calluses:

Corns can be treated with corn plasters. The plaster helps relieve pressure on the corn allowing it to heal.

Treat calluses by soaking your feet in warm water for 20 minutes. You can then gently rub the calluses away.

8. Stone bruises

Stone bruises, also known as metatarsalgia, are a painful foot condition that causes inflammation in the ball of your foot.

Causes of stone bruises include:

  • Ill-fitting shoes
  • Wearing high heels
  • Foot abnormalities
  • Gait abnormalities
  • Obesity
  • Arthritis
  • Gout
  • Stress fracture

Symptoms of stone bruises include:

  • Pain when standing, running, and/or walking
  • Pain while participating in sports activities
  • Feeling like you’re walking on a pebble
  • Sharp pain in the ball of your foot
  • Numbness in your toes

Treatments for stone bruises include:

  • Resting or elevating your feet
  • Icing your feet
  • Taking NSAIDs (ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen)
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoid wearing ill-fitting shoes or high heels

If your pain doesn’t go away, discuss the issue with a podiatrist who may recommend visiting a physical therapist for strengthening exercises. If you’re not finding relief from any of the above, discuss realignment surgery with your provider.

9. Morton’s neuroma

Morton’s neuroma affects the ball of your foot and occurs when the tissues that surround your nerves thicken or become compressed. You may not realize you have this condition, as it’s not always painful.

Causes of Morton’s neuroma include:

  • Wearing shoes that are too tight
  • Wearing high heels
  • High arches
  • Flat feet
  • Bunions
  • Foot injury
  • Repetitive sports activities such as running, tennis, ballet, or skiing

Symptoms of Morton’s neuroma include:

  • Pain in the ball of your foot
  • Feeling like you’re standing on a marble
  • Numbness in your toes

Treatments for Morton’s neuroma include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Stretching exercises for your feet and ankles
  • Elevating and resting your foot
  • Applying ice to the ball of your foot
  • Massaging the ball of your foot

If the pain doesn’t go away, a podiatrist may recommend corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory injections, or surgery. If left untreated, Morton’s neuroma can cause permanent nerve damage.

10. Diabetic neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a group of foot conditions caused by diabetes.

Diabetics are more likely to have fluctuations in their blood sugar and are thus more prone to foot-related issues.

Causes of diabetic neuropathy:

The main cause of diabetic neuropathy is damage to the nerves in the feet, but injuries or lifestyle factors such as smoking can also contribute to diabetic neuropathy.

Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy include:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Pain in the feet
  • Loss of sensitivity in feet
  • Burning sensation in feet
  • Problems walking

Treatments for diabetic neuropathy:

The best way to treat diabetic neuropathy is to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Other treatments include exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and taking medications prescribed by a podiatrist.

How can a podiatrist keep you on your feet?

According to APMA, only 25% of Americans who have experienced foot ailments have seen a physician about their problem, and less than half that amount have visited a podiatrist.

Podiatrists are essential to helping keep your feet healthy. If you're experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, schedule a consultation with a podiatrist at one of our Twin Cities clinics.

We'll help get you back on your feet and living pain-free!

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Voyage Healthcare Team

Written by Voyage Healthcare Team

Voyage Healthcare is an independently owned, multi-specialty healthcare clinic — guided by the doctors who care for families in the northwest metro area of Minneapolis/St. Paul.


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