The foot is a complex structure of 26 bones, 33 joints, and many muscles, ligaments, and nerves. Only a small number of Americans are born with foot problems. Most problems develop due to neglect and poor care, including ill-fitting shoes. Some disorders begin early in life and are affected by heredity, walking patterns, and geography. However, most foot pain occurs as feet change with age or diseases develop over time. Most Americans will have foot pain at some point in their lives.

Normal Anatomy of the Left Foot

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Common causes of foot pain include:

  • Poor-fitting shoes
  • High-heeled shoes
  • Poor posture
  • High impact exercise (such as running)

Foot pain may also be caused by systemic disease, such as:

  • Arthritis (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)—Arthritis can cause stiffness and reduced range of motion.
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease—This condition affects the legs and feet by causing reduced blood flow, swelling, and increased risk of infection.
  • Diabetes—A common complication of diabetes is reduced blood flow, which causes a number of problems in the legs and feet including abnormal sensation, swelling, and increased risk of infection.
  • Gout—Gout may cause pain and swelling in the great toe.

For descriptions of many common types of foot pain, click here.