Pain in the foot

accreditation

Find out what’s causing your foot pain. 

Painful feet? Don’t, worry. You’re not the only one.Foot pain is a very common problem, affecting as many as 75 percent of people at some point in their lives, according to the College of Podiatry in London.

The foot is a complex structure of 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 ligaments. Your feet support your weight, act as shock absorbers, and help maintain balance.But as important as they are, it’s easy to take them for granted – until they cause you pain. 

What’s hurting your feet? 

  • Unsuitable footwear. Shoes that are too tight or poorly fitted, e.g. high heels, can be a pain in the feet. Too-tight shoelaces can also cause pain and bruising on the top of the foot. Exercising in the wrong shoes can also wreak havoc on your foot health and cause discomfort. In the short term, ill-fitting footwear can cause blisters, bruising, and athlete’s foot. Long-term effects include bunions, corns, calluses, nerve and joint damage, and misalignment of the toes.
  • Walking incorrectly. An abnormal walk or posture can hurt your feet. Add the wrong shoes, and you could get bunions, osteoarthritis, fallen arches, malformation of the toes, and permanent misalignment of the joints of the bones of the feet. Inflammation can also cause arthritis.
  • Medical conditions, e.g. arthritis and gout, which cause inflammation of the bones, ligaments, or tendons in the foot. Diabetes, obesity and neurological disorders like Parkinson's disease may also cause pain or numbness in the feet.
  • High-impact exercises like running or jogging can injure your feet and other parts of your leg. Besides severe foot pain, it can also cause corns, blisters, and calluses, which can aggravate painful feet.  

Stop the pain

  • Find the right fit. Your feet change shape as you age. Have yours measured the next time you buy shoes. Shop for shoes later in the day when your feet might be slightly swollen. 
  • Slip on some socks. Wear thick socks to absorb pressure and allow your feet to breathe. Avoid socks that are too tight. 
  • Wear the right shoe for specific activities. Whether you’re walking or running, athletic shoes should feel comfortable right away.
  • Forget about “breaking your shoes in”. It’s also a good idea to get a new pair every six months. Running or walking in worn-out shoes may lead to injury.   
  • Put your comfort first. Trade in your high heels for low-heeled shoes with stiff soles and soft padding inside.   
  • Alternate shoes. Avoid wearing the same pair of shoes every day. This puts repeated pressure on the same areas of your foot. Avoid walking barefoot as this can increase your risk for injury and infection.
  • Trim your toenails. Another major source of foot pain is ingrown toenails (when the edge of your nail grows into the skin around the toe).Prevent this by cutting your toenails straight across.
  • Stay flexible. Do heel and foot muscle stretches. Stretching your calves can also go a long way in preventing foot pain.   
  • Take a break. If you’re on your feet for most of the day, do your feet a favour and take a load off whenever you get the chance.  
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Your feet bear the weight of your entire body. The more you weigh, the greater your foot stress. Prevent this by keeping your weight in check.    

If the foot pain interferes with your daily living, see your doctor immediately. Don’t ignore pain, especially if the affected area is swollen, tender, changes colour, looks deformed, or causes you to move differently. 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24