The human foot is a complex structure that comprises 26 bones and 33 joints. It contains more than a hundred muscles, ligaments, and nerves. Our feet support our weight, maintain balance, and allow us to walk, run, or jump. On an average, in a typical day, people spend about 5 hours standing, and take about 8000 to 10,000 steps a day. If we don't take care of our feet, we could experience foot problems. About 75% of Americans would experience foot pain at some point in their lives. In case of women, pain could be attributed to the use of high-heeled shoes. Our feet carry the entire weight of the body, and with each step we take, a lot of pressure is exerted on them. The force of each step is about 50% greater than the person's body weight. Sometimes, pain is felt in the toes, forefoot, or hind foot. While toes might hurt, if one wears shoes with a narrow toe box, pain in the forefoot originates in the metatarsal bones or the sesamoid bones. The pain that originates in the hind foot can extend from the heel to the ball of the foot.
More often than not, style scores higher than comfort, when it comes to purchasing shoes. We get tempted into buying shoes with a narrow toe box or high heels, just because they are stylish. What we forget is that wearing ill-fitting footwear could cause pain in foot, along with other problems such as corns, bunions, etc.
High Impact Exercises
Running or jogging on uneven surfaces or performing strenuous aerobic exercises in a wrong manner could make one susceptible to problems such as muscle cramps, acute knee and ankle injuries, plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, sesamoiditis, Achilles tendinitis, and stress fractures. Under such circumstances, one is likely to experience pain.
Arthritic conditions, particularly osteoarthritis and gout are also contributing factors for pain. Other than arthritis, diabetes could also cause foot problems. Also, high blood pressure could adversely affect the nervous system and circulatory system, which could give rise to pain, loss of sensation, tingling in the feet, infection, foot ulcers, etc.
People Who Are At Risk
A study showed that more than 87% of older people report at least one major foot problem. As people age, there are a lot of changes in the foot like widening and flattening of feet and wearing down of the fat padding on the sole of the feet. In fact, foot pain is often considered the first symptom of many illnesses related to aging, such as arthritis or diabetes.
Women are at a higher risk, the most probable cause being the use of high-heeled shoes. An American study suggested that 83% women in the age groups of 50 to 75 years reported foot problems. Also, 14% older disabled women reported chronic foot pain due to which they required assistance in walking.
Sportspeople and Dancers
People who engage in regular high impact exercises like sports or dancing are susceptible to injuries that might cause pain. Athletes who exercise vigorously everyday are at a major risk of stress fractures.
On a concluding note, sudden foot pain should not be ignored. It is advisable to see a podiatrist, in case the pain persists. Also, remember to pay attention to the changes in color and temperature of the feet. Last but not the least, wear shoes that are comfortable and fit.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.