Foot Problems 101 - Five Common Conditions

The Five Most Common Conditions Affecting the Feet

Close-up of a woman massaging a person's foot. Credit: Medioimages/Photodisc / Getty Images

Our feet endure enormous amounts of stress. The time we spend on our feet each day can overwork the joints and soft tissue of even the healthiest feet. As a result of this stress, there are certain foot conditions that can develop at any time.

Five of the most common foot conditions are listed below. Follow the links for in-depth information on what causes them, how they are diagnosed, whether you need medical intervention and what are the treatment options.

1. Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is also known as heel spur syndrome. It usually presents as pain on the bottom of the heel when bearing weight. Usually the pain worsens after rest, making the first steps out of bed unbearable for some sufferers. Plantar fasciitis is due to inflammation at the area of the heel bone where a ligament-like structure called the plantar fascia is anchored. The most common cause of heel pain is foot dysfunction which results in excess strain on the plantar fascia.

2. Bunion

A bunion usually presents as a large bump on the side or top of the big toe joint. The bump may also be accompanied by redness, pain, or a great toe that appears to be displaced toward the other toes. A bunion is usually caused by an abnormality of foot function.

3. Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses are both areas of thickened skin on the feet. Corns are small areas of deeply thickened skin that are often painful.

They occur over a bony structure, such as a toe joint and are the result of friction against these areas. Calluses are larger areas of thickened skin that are not as deep as corns. They are also caused by excess friction and are usually found on the soles or sides of the feet.

4. Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is caused by a fungal infection that most commonly occurs underneath the toenail.

The result is a white, brown, or yellow discoloration of the toenail. Other signs of onychomycosis include toenail thickening and keratin debris beneath the nail.

5. Athlete's Foot

Athlete's Foot is also known as tinea pedis and is caused by a fungal infection of the skin. The fungus that causes the infection thrives in the hot, humid environment of a shoe. Athlete's foot is characterized by a red, scaly rash on the soles and sides of the feet that often itches. Another form of athlete's foot affects the spaces between the toes and results in skin that appears white due to excess moisture retention.

See more about these conditions in the links. For some of these, there are self-treatment options to relieve pain and symptoms. For others, it is best to consult with a medical provider or podiatrist for diagnosis and to discuss treatment options.

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