Foot Disorders: Overview

Foot disorders are conditions that interfere with smooth and efficient movement of the foot. Common foot disorders include corns and calluses, blisters, bunions, hammer toe, plantar fasciitis, flat feet, clubfoot, and ingrown toenails.

Caroline's Story

Caroline is a 26-year-old ballerina. She has been dancing since she was six years old. She is now dancing professionally with a major ballet company. Although she is slim and healthy, her feet are not in good condition. She frequently has blisters and has developed bunions on both feet. She almost always has pain on the bottom of her feet and heels. She knows that most professional dancers have the same problems, but no one wants anyone else to know. She wants to dance, and she will quietly suffer the pain. She sees her personal physician, who refers her to a podiatrist, a doctor with specialized knowledge of and experience in treating foot problems. The podiatrist diagnoses the pain in the bottom of her foot as plantar fasciitis (FASH-ee-EYE-tis). He makes several recommendations for Caroline to help her take better care of her feet.




A bunion is formed when the first metatarsal bone (along the inner side of the foot) pushes out at the base of the big toe, and the big toe is displaced toward the smaller toes.





A bunion is formed when the first metatarsal bone (along the inner side of the foot) pushes out at the base of the big toe, and the big toe is displaced toward the smaller toes. The bump that characterizes a bunion is caused by joint inflammation and swelling.
Alila Medical Media/Shutterstock.com.

Anatomy of the Foot

The human foot is made up of bones including the tarsal bones * (bones of the heel); metatarsal (MET-uh-TAR-sul) bones (bones of the midfoot); and phalanges (fa-LAN-jes) (bones of the toes). Ligaments, tendons, and muscles surround and support the bones, allowing the foot to move in flexion, extension, and twisting. This flexibility of movement is important for the foot to adjust to various surfaces as a person walks, runs, stands, and dances. Foot injuries and disorders can interfere with smooth and effortless movement of the foot.

What Are Foot Disorders?

There are many disorders of the foot, including the following: