The most common foot problems

Feet can suffer from a wide variety of problems. The following are the most common.


Sometimes, misaligned big toe joints can become swollen and tender, causing the first joint of the big toe to slant outward, and the second joint to slant toward the other toes. This results in a bunion. Although bunions tend to be hereditary, tight or constricting footwear can make the problem worse. Surgery may be necessary to correct the problem.

Corns and calluses

Basically, these are really just the formation of hard and thickened areas of skin at places of excess pressure and friction - one of the body’s protection mechanisms. If the skin becomes too thick and hard, it can cause pain when walking or standing, or in any situation where excess pressure is applied. Although corns and calluses are physically the same, there are some structural differences - corns are well-defined and cone shaped, with the point of the cone pointing down into the skin. In fact, it’s this central core of hard skin that distinguishes a corn from a callus, and what can make a corn very painful. Although calluses aren’t generally very painful, because the thickness of the skin tends to make them less sensitive to touch, they can hurt if the build-up is sufficient.


In this condition, the toe is bent in a claw-like position. Usually, the second toe is affected, but any of the other smaller toes can suffer from the problem, too. Using footwear that does not constrict the toes will help to alleviate discomfort.

Heel pain (Plantar fasciitis)

There is no single cause for this, though it is often a result of inflammation on the bottom of the foot. Professional advice will often succeed in identifying the cause and the remedy – which may include the use of orthotics (shoe inserts).

Ingrown nails

This is when the corners or sides of a toenail grow painfully into the skin. They can be cause by a number of things, such as badly fitting footwear, poor nail trimming, trauma (injury), fungal infection and inherited poor foot structure. Men tend to suffer less than women. Preventative measures include trimming toenails straight across and taking care to choose properly fitting shoes.


Occurring most often between the third and fourth toes, these benign growths of nerves are caused by the pressure of tissue rubbing against the nerves. This pressure often comes from poorly-fitting shoes, though abnormal bone structure can also cause the condition. Treatments include orthotics (shoe inserts) and/or cortisone injections, though a surgical procedure is sometimes necessary to remove the growth.

Shin splints

This term is often heard among those who exercise vigorously, because the condition (pain to either side of the leg bone), is caused by muscle or tendon inflammation. Often, it’s a result of over-pronation of the foot (collapsing arch), but it can also be a result of an imbalance between different muscle groups in the leg. Proper stretching and/or orthotics (shoe inserts) often helps to prevent shin splints.