I found that some conditions that cause foot pain are more common for some than others. This might be because of your foot structure, the type of shoes that you wear, or even your occupation. I've identified three very common conditions that I see in women.
The first condition I'd like to discuss is heel pain. The most common cause of heel pain is #PlantarFasciitis. The plantar fascia is a broad ligament that attaches to the heel and extends through the entire bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia is important for the stability and support of your feet. It also acts as a shock absorber when you walk or run. As you walk or run, the plantar fascia pulls on the heel and this can cause two things to happen. For one, the ligament can become inflamed. This usually happens where the ligament attaches to the heel, but it can become inflamed in the arch as well. It's the inflammation that's responsible for the pain of plantar fasciitis.
Second, a heel spur can form. A heel spur is a growth of bone at the bottom of the heel. It forms in response to the pulling of the ligament on the heel bone. Now a heel spur is not usually the cause of the pain associated with plantar fasciitis. It's important to note that just because you have a heel spur, it doesn't mean that it has to be removed.
Common symptoms of plantar fasciitis include pain with the first steps in the morning or after periods of inactivity. Often that pain will lessen or even go away when you start walking and your foot warms up. But then the pain progressively gets worse as the day progresses. 95% of the time, plantar fasciitis is managed with conservative treatment.
Since the pain of plantar fasciitis is due to inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament, we need to address the inflammation. We can do that with a cortisone injection, oral anti-inflammatory medication, topical anti-inflammatory medication, applying ice to your foot. Any of these will help to reduce the inflammation. The pain of plantar fasciitis can persist because of unstable mechanics. That's why we use medical grade insoles, strapping applied to the bottom of your foot, I recommend stretching with a foam roller. All these will help to control the mechanics of your feet and calm down the inflammation.
Another common cause of foot pain found in women occurs with pain in the ball of your foot. This is often due to a #MortonsNeuroma. A neuroma is an inflammation of a nerve as it travels between your metatarsal bones. It gets irritated by the bones and the ligament between them, and that can cause the nerve to enlarge. A Morton's neuroma is particularly painful while wearing narrow shoes. Women's dress shoes and high heels make the pain worse because they generally run more narrow.
The first thing I do, if you have a Morton's neuroma, is to ensure you're wearing properly fitting shoes. Sometimes simply wearing a shoe that's a little wider helps alleviate the pain. Like plantar fasciitis, treatment starts with anti-inflammatory medication, sometimes taken orally, but more often given with an injection. Treatment with medical grade insoles and custom orthotics are also often helpful to keep the pressure off the nerve. In severe cases, the neuroma is removed surgically.
The third condition I'd like to discuss is a #bunion. A bunion is a protrusion of bone on the side or the top of the great toe joint. The most common presentation is when the bump is on the side of the joint. The bump is the first metatarsal shifting out towards the side of the foot. As the bone shifts one way, the great toe often moves over towards the second toe. The bump you're seeing on the side of your foot is the head of the metatarsal bone protruding out the side of your foot. This is a condition known as hallux valgus. What I find fascinating is when a bunion is painful. A mild looking bunion can be very painful. A severe looking bunion may never give you a day of pain. The pain may be on the bump of the bunion. The pain may be deep in the great toe joint. It's different for everyone.
Bunions that are caught early can be treated with custom orthotics by stabilizing the feet. It can prevent the bunion from worsening. There are pads and supports that also help the bunion if it's uncomfortable. The only way to truly correct the bunion, however, is with surgery.