“My feet are killing me!" is one of the most enduring phrases in the English language. Like most clichés, this one is grounded in day-to-day experience: the foot and ankle region is subject to constant stresses and hazards, from the effects of ill-fitting shoes to traumatic sports injuries. The results can be painful and even debilitating.

Foot and ankle problems can have a significant impact on our general health and well-being. That is why it is important to understand the causes of foot and ankle pain.
Shoes are often the culprits. Our shoes have to fit right, be comfortable, and provide support. It's also necessary that your shoes be able to absorb shock while you walk, and that they provide stability to the heel area.
Foot and ankle injuries are also one of the main causes of pain. Ankle sprains are the most commonly reported injury, but there are several more including shin splints caused from the over use of the foot and ankle and Achilles tendinitis, often resulting from sports requiring a great deal of jumping. More serious injuries include plantar fasciitis, which is an irritation of the plantar fascia - the tough tissue on the very bottom of the foot that begins at the heel and is attached to the toes, and tarsal tunnel syndrome which often effects those who are on their feet all day.
Arch problems are another source of foot and ankle pain. Some suffer from an arch that is lower than normal and some suffer from an arch that is higher than normal. Both conditions can be very painful and lead to more serious problems such as plantar fasciitis.
Foot and ankle pain can also be the result of an existing disease. Diabetes can lead to peripheral neuropathy, a condition in which feeling is reduced in the foot. This numbness is a serious condition that can lead to injuries and ulcers on the foot. Because the patient can't feel pain or pressure, a simple blister can turn into an ulcer, infection can set in, and, in severe cases, this can be followed by gangrene and amputation of the foot or leg. Those that suffer from arthritis, also often suffer from foot pain. The foot and ankle region is especially susceptible to arthritis because of the large numbers of joints at risk (33 in each foot) coupled with the tremendous weight-bearing load on the feet.
If you are suffering from foot or ankle pain, it is very important to discuss this issue with your physician and learn about treatment options.
Dr. Marvin Williams, UAB Medical West Podiatrist, will be speaking about foot and ankle pain at the UAB Medical West Senior Care Wellness Luncheon on Friday, August 5, 2011 at the Bessemer Civic Center. The cost of the luncheon is $3. For more information, please call 481-8500.