Foot pain when walking

Foot pain when walking is a problem for one-quarter of adults and is known to impact on balance and gait and health-related quality of life. Foot pain when walking can be fixed, although it depends on what is causing the pain. The ten most common reasons for foot pain when walking is:

  1. Plantar fasciitis – Heel pain is a frequently observed deformity which commonly affects individuals who are active in the sport, overweight/obese or have structural anomalies such as high arches or flat feet. Heel pain involves the plantar fascia and musculature at its insertion at the heel. Heel pain may progress from acute to chronic depending on the duration and severity of symptoms.
  2. Morton’s Neuroma – Morton’s neuroma is a frequently observed foot deformity and affects the third interspace more commonly than the second or fourth spaces. Morton’s Neuroma involves changes consistent with fibrosis of the proper digital nerves. The condition is commonly referred to as a Neuroma although this is misleading as it reflects more of a swelling/fibrosis of the nerve rather than a true Neuroma.
  3. Plantar Plate tear/rupture – Most commonly experienced by middle-aged women, a plantar plate rupture is often a cause of persistent pain and swelling in the forefoot. It is also commonly associated with a bunion and a hammer toe. The plantar plate is a thick ligament type structure with attachments which inserts into the base of our phalanges (toe bones) in the area of the ball of the foot. The plantar plate is designed to protect the head of the metatarsal from pressure and prevent overextension of our toes. It also plays a role in preventing our toes from spreading or splaying.
  4. Corns and warts – A wart is a small growth on the skin that develops when the skin is infected by a virus. Warts can develop anywhere on the foot, but typically they appear on the bottom (plantar side) of the foot. Plantar warts most commonly occur in children, adolescents, and the elderly. Corns are an area of thickened skin which grow inwards, pressing on local nerve endings and causing pain
  5. Bunions – Bunions have been shown to reduce health-related quality of life, make fitting footwear difficult and increase the risk of falls and balance problems”. Bilateral bunion surgery can be performed safely as an outpatient procedure in selected patients with acceptable levels of patient satisfaction. Bunion surgery has also been found to be the most effective intervention in scientific studies.Bunion surgery is unlikely to be painful, as the use of minimal incision techniques and better medications given during the surgery, significantly reduce postoperative pain. Also, because you can walk straight after surgery, postoperative swelling is reduced. Most patients are back into supportive footwear by week 4 and at week 6 can resume most activities. Residual swelling can take several months to completely subside.
  6. Hallux Rigidus – Hallux rigidus is a disorder of the joint located at the base of the big toe. It causes pain and stiffness in the joint, and with time it gets increasingly harder to bend the toe.  ‘Hallux” refers to the big toe, while “rigidus” indicates that the toe is rigid and cannot move. Hallux rigidus is actually a form of degenerative arthritis. This disorder can be very troubling and even disabling, since we use the big toe whenever we walk, stoop down, climb up, or even stand. Many patients confuse hallux rigidus with a bunion, which affects the same joint, but they are very different conditions requiring different treatment.Because hallux rigidus is a progressive condition, the toe’s motion decreases as time goes on. In its earlier stage, when the motion of the big toe is only somewhat limited, the condition is called “hallux limitus.” But as the problem advances, the toe’s range of motion gradually decreases until it potentially reaches the end stage of “rigidus,” in which the big toe becomes stiff, or what is sometimes called a “frozen joint.”
  7. Flat feet – Flatfoot is often a complex disorder, with diverse symptoms and varying degrees of deformity and disability. There are several types of flatfoot, all of which have one characteristic in common: partial or total collapse (loss) of the arch. Other characteristics shared by most types of flatfoot include:
    • “Toe drift,” in which the toes and the front part of the foot point outward
    • The heel tilts toward the outside and the ankle appears to turn in
    • A tight Achilles tendon, which causes the heel to lift off the ground earlier when walking and may make the problem worse
    • Bunions and hammertoes may develop as a result of a flatfoot.Tailor’s bunion –  A Tailor’s bunion, also called a bunionette, is a prominence of the fifth metatarsal bone at the base of the little toe. The prominence that characterizes a tailor’s bunion occurs at the metatarsal “head,” located at the far end of the bone where it meets the toe. Tailor’s bunions are not as common as bunions, which occur on the inside of the foot, but they are similar in symptoms and causes.
  8. Tailor’s bunion – A Tailor’s bunion, also called a bunionette, is a prominence of the fifth metatarsal bone at the base of the little toe. The prominence that characterizes a tailor’s bunion occurs at the metatarsal “head,” located at the far end of the bone where it meets the toe. Tailor’s bunions are not as common as bunions, which occur on the inside of the foot, but they are similar in symptoms and causes. Why is it called a tailor’s bunion? The deformity received its name centuries ago, when tailors sat cross-legged all day with the outside edge of their feet rubbing on the ground. This constant rubbing led to a painful bump at the base of the little toe
  9. Ankle sprains – Chronic ankle sprains are characterized by a recurring “giving way” of the outer (lateral) side of the ankle. Ankle instability often develops after repeated ankle sprains. Usually the “giving way” occurs while walking or doing other activities, but it can also happen when you’re just standing. Many athletes, as well as others, suffer from chronic ankle sprains and instability.People with chronic ankle sprains and instability often complain of:
    • A repeated turning of the ankle, especially on uneven surfaces or when participating in sports
    • Persistent (chronic) discomfort and swelling
    • Pain or tenderness
    • The ankle feeling wobbly or unstable
  10. Osteoarthritis – Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is a condition that causes the joints to become painful and stiff. It is the most common type of arthritis, and occurs when the cartilage (a smooth, cushioning substance) on the end of bones becomes permanently damaged. Cartilage helps to protect the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints. It also allows joints to move smoothly. When cartilage is damaged it loses its smooth surface and becomes rough or uneven, leading to problems in the affected joints. Osteoarthritis in the foot most commonly affects the big toes.