Seek help before your foot pain gets too bad

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Foot pain affects a range of people and can have a variety of causes.

Some of these may be due to underlying foot problems or other health concerns, whereas others could be caused by something simpler – such as ill-fitting or incorrect shoes, or an object lodged in your foot.

Foot problems can obviously have an impact on exercise, as well as general walking and mobility, so it is important to seek treatment as soon as a problem occurs, rather than waiting and letting it get worse.

If you are experiencing significant foot pain, a trip to your GP should be your first consideration.

However, here’s my guide to some of the potential causes of your foot pain.

· Bunions: These occur when a bony swelling appears at the base of the big toe, meaning that toe points towards the others.

This can become painful and difficult to walk on.

The condition can normally be treated with corrective footwear and painkillers, or surgery in extreme cases.

Bunions are aggravated by wearing certain footwear, such as high heels or narrow shoes.

· Verrucas: This is a wart-like growth that occurs on the sole of the foot, meaning it can be painful to walk on.

Verrucas normally look like a small and flat white circle of skin with a black dot in the middle.

Verrucas and warts usually heal without treatment within about six months.

They can also be treated with over-the-counter or prescription treatments.

· Ingrown toenails: When the edge of the toenail grows into the surrounding skin, it can become sore and tender.

There is a risk of infection which can make the toe even more painful.

You can help to avoid an ingrown toenail by keeping your feet clean, cutting your nails and wearing proper fitting, comfortable shoes.

However, if you do develop an ingrown toenail, this is usually treated by removing part or all of the nail under a local anaesthetic.

· Gout: This is when a substance called uric acid forms in the joint of the big toe, which leads to inflammation and pain.

Gout can also affect other joints, but will usually appear in the big toe first.

If you suffer with gout, consult your GP for advice on diet and lifestyle.

· Sprains and stress fractures: These are common if you take part in high-impact activities, such as sport.

A sprain occurs when the tissues of the foot become temporarily stretched and damaged.

A stress fracture is more serious and occurs when a small crack appears in one of the bones of your foot.

If this occurs, the area will likely become bruised and be tender to the touch.

Other sources of foot pain include nerve problems, metatarsalgia – which is a burning or aching pain which can get worse when you move – or a build up of fluid in the tissues of the foot.

One other possible cause of foot pain is arthritis.

This can particularly affect older people and sometimes occurs after an injury to the joint.

This is a swelling of the tissues around the joints, such as those of the big toe and heel.

This is known as osteoarthritis.

Another form of this is rheumatoid arthritis, which is caused by the immune system attacking the joints and making them inflamed.

Consult your GP for information on treatment and lifestyle if you suffer from arthritis.

Further information on foot pain, possible causes and treatments, can be found by logging on to the NHS Choices website – nhs.uk