Foot pain is not normal. Your feet shouldn’t hurt all the time. But, considering the types and quality of shoes we wear, it’s not surprising so many of us experience foot pain. What people forget is that foot pain can determine whether we’ll have knee pain, hip pain, back pain. We ignore and neglect our feet, but they are what literally get us going. Here are the most common causes of foot pain that everyone needs should know.

Plantar Fasciitis

The plantar fascia is a thick ligament that runs from the front of the toe on the bottom of the foot to the heel. When that ligament becomes inflamed from stress caused by high-impact activity or by wearing shoes with high arches, the pain that results is referred to as plantar fasciitis. Try changing to wider, more supportive shoes for a few days and always remember R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression, elevation) as well as over-the-counter pain medication. If this doesn’t resolve the pain speak with your doctor.

Morton's Neuroma

Simply put, Morton’s Neuroma is an enlargement of the tissue around the nerves between your toes that can cause your toes to sting, go numb, and/or lead to a burning pain in the ball of your foot. While this condition isn’t common, it is often linked to wearing pointed, narrow, tight high heels. Changing to more supportive, roomier shoes can provide relief. If the pain lasts more than two days, seek medical assistance.

Bunions

There’s a myth that the kind of shoes you wear cause or prevent you from getting bunions. Yes- the shoes you wear can aggravate a bunion, but they’re not the root cause. A bunion is a bump at the joint of the big toe. It’s also possible to get a bunion on the side of the pinky toe, it’s called a bunionette. Bunions are caused by instability that shifts your bones and depending on the level of pain they cause the individual or the severity of the bunion, surgery may be required to correct the issue.

Hammertoes

A hammertoe occurs when the muscles in a toe fires longer and harder through the gait cycle than your other toes causing it to contract and pull up into a hammer-like position. The bend point in the toe then sticks out above your other toes and friction can lead to a corn or callous on the bend making it even more uncomfortable. This should not be ignored. If not treated properly it can ulcerate and open which can lead to further discomfort, pain and possible infection.

RA (Rheumatoid arthritis)

A chronic inflammatory disorder, RA can literally affect your body from head to toe. A common side effect of the disorder is that your bones start to deviate, angulate – not sit straight – which can be part of the reason for pain. Toe joints can develop rheumatoid nodules (growths that look like a ball coming out of the joint) and can feel swollen, stiff and tender to the touch. If you suspect RA as the cause of your pain seek assistance from a rheumatologist.

Gout

Also known as gouty arthritis, gout should be treated promptly by your physician. It’s caused by a malfunction in the kidneys that keeps your body from breaking down the uric acids found in organ meats, seafood and heavy sauces. The uric acids crystalize and travel to the coldest part of the body – typically the big toe joint – and cause swelling, redness, intense sensitivity and even be hot to the touch.

Tendinitis

One of the most common forms of foot pain and injury, tendinitis is irritation or inflammation of a tendon. Basically, it comes down to damage done from lack of support and doing exercise on hard surfaces. Mild swelling and a dull ache after activity are indicators that you need to address the issue. Physical therapy and rest are most often the best course of action.

Strain or Sprain

You don’t have to be a marathon runner to sprain or strain a muscle – any mom with a toddler or two does the calisthenics of a Kungfu warrior just getting her kids to bed every night. It’s easy to write off a rolled ankle or other minor injuries that can happen when you overstretch muscles, ligaments or tendons but these injuries can cause major discomfort and don’t heal quickly. Do the work to rebuild strength and apply some good ole R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression, elevation). Listen to your body. If it won’t let you do something you’ve taken for granted in the past, make a doctor’s appointment. Your muscles, tendons and ligaments are like rubber bands – you can stretch and stretch them for just so long until they don’t spring back.