Foot Pain

  • Author:
    Philip A. Radovic, DPM, FACFAS

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideCommon Causes of Foot Pain

Common Causes of Foot Pain

How is the foot designed?

The foot is an intricate structure of 26 bones, 33 joints, multiple muscles, tendons, blood vessels, nerves, and lymphatics. The bones form two crossing arches of the foot. The longitudinal arch runs the length of the foot, and the transverse arch runs the width. The ankle joint is formed by the interaction of the foot and the lower leg, and the toes are on the far side of the foot. The bones of the foot are primarily held together by their fit with each other forming joints surrounded by joint capsules and connected by fibrous tissues known as ligaments. The muscles of the foot, along with a tough, sinewy tissue known as the plantar fascia, provide secondary support to the foot. The foot has internal muscles that originate and insert in the foot and external muscles that begin in the lower leg and attach in various places on the bones of the foot. There are also fat pads in the foot to help with weight-bearing and absorbing impact.

Picture of the metatarsal (foot) and calcaneus (heel) bones, the plantar fascia ligament, and the Achilles tendon of the lower leg and foot
Picture of the metatarsal (foot) and calcaneus (heel) bones, the plantar fascia ligament, and the Achilles tendon of the lower leg and foot

The foot is the foundation of movement of the lower extremity. Pain in the foot indicates that there is something wrong with either the interaction of internal structures of the foot or with how the foot is interacting with external influences. How and when the pain occurs and the locations of the pain are the primary clues to what may be causing the pain. When there is pain, the body reacts by changing the way it moves or functions in an effort to reduce the pain. These compensations or biomechanical changes may prevent the normal movement and cause further injury in the foot and/or other parts of the body. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 1/8/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Arnheim, Daniel D., and William Prentice. Principles of Athletic Training. 10th ed. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2000.

Daniels, Jack. Daniels' Running Formula. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1998.



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