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Foot Pain

Your foot/ankle complex is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, and a network of more than 100 different tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Although your feet are strong, flexible, and stable, they’re also prone to a wide range of conditions, biomechanical problems, and injuries.

What causes foot pain?

It may seem incredible, but your feet will probably cover about 75,000 miles of distance by the time you’re 50 years old. Along the way, your feet are vulnerable to injury, movement disorders, and the effects of chronic illness.

It’s important to take good care of your feet if you're going to stay active for life. That means receiving the care you need when you have unresolved foot pain. Frequent reasons for persistent foot pain include:


Some of the most common systemic illnesses can lead to painful foot problems. Arthritis may be an ongoing source of foot pain, while untreated or advanced diabetes can cause nerve damage, persistent burning, and painful ulcers on your feet.


Any sprain or strain of the soft tissues in your foot/ankle complex can cause immediate pain that requires prompt attention. In some cases, a presumed sprain turns out to be a bone fracture, and apparently stubbed toes may be broken.


Heel pain is often the product of plantar fasciitis, a connective tissue injury that causes inflammation through the sole of your foot. Heel and foot pain can also be the result of Achilles tendonitis, or inflammation of the tendon behind your heel.


Bunions and hammertoe are the two most common toe joint disorders. Bunions occur when the big toe joint shifts out of place and forms a bony protrusion on the side of your foot. A hammertoe bends upward in the middle rather than lying flat, leaving it prone to developing painful corns.


A neuroma is a painful condition that develops when a nerve is irritated, causing it to swell. Morton’s neuroma, which occurs where the ball of your foot meets your toes, is relatively common in people who walk a lot, particularly if they have inadequate footwear.   

How is foot pain diagnosed?

To pinpoint the underlying cause of foot pain quickly and accurately, Dr. Pathak will ask you about your medical history and the nature of your pain, including when it occurs, how long it lasts, and what makes it better or worse.

Then, she’ll perform a thorough foot exam to evaluate your foot, ankle, and toe strength, your range of motion, and your neurological responses.

If Dr. Pathak suspects a bone fracture or joint deformity, she’ll take an X-ray to confirm her diagnosis. If your problem resides in your foot’s soft tissues, Dr. Pathak may take an MRI or CT scan to determine the severity of the problem.

Can wearing the wrong shoes cause foot pain?

You don’t have to have an underlying condition or disorder to experience foot pain; sometimes the problem comes down to your shoes.

Tight shoes that “just need to be broken in” often lead to persistent foot pain, as do narrow shoes that crowd your toes and high-heeled shoes that put pressure on the balls of your feet.

Aside from advising you to buy and wear shoes that are comfortable and supportive, Dr. Pathak can help you understand your unique foot structure and gives recommendations on how to find the best footwear for you.


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