Bones of the Foot: Major Parts and Common Issues

Much like any other part of the body, the feet are also affected by numerous illnesses. It may affect the tendons, ligaments, muscles, skin, or bones of the foot.

Person applying pressure to foot of another person

A variety of reasons causes foot problems. These include inflammation, injuries, and malfunction. So, what are the usual health conditions that concern the feet? Before that, here is a quick rundown on the bones of the foot.

Overview of the Foot

The feet are composed of bones, muscles, soft tissues, and joints that help an individual stand and perform a range of movement. These include jumping, running, and walking. One’s foot is made up of three sections which are as follows.

1. The Forefoot

This section of the foot is comprised of the fiver longer bones called the metatarsals, and the five toes called the phalanges.

2. The Midfoot

The midfoot is a group of bones that make up the arch of the foot and is pyramid-like in appearance. It is comprised of the navicular bone, the cuboid bone, and the three cuneiform bones.

3. The Hindfoot

This section of the foot makes up the ankle and the heel. The ankle is made up by the talus bone, and it supports the tibia and fibula, which are bones in the leg. As for the foot, the largest bone in the heel bone which is known as the calcaneus.

Apart from the bones that make up the foot, ligaments, tendons, and muscles run along its surface. These ligaments, tendons, and muscles allow the movement required for balance and motion. The tendon that links the calf muscle to the heel is called the Achilles tendon. It is vital for jumping, standing on one’s toes, and running.

Conditions Affecting the Feet

Numerous conditions affect the feet, from its bones to the skin and its muscles. Here are just some of them.

1. Inflammation of Plantar Fascia

This disease is an inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament. It is also called plantar fasciitis, and it runs along the bottom of the foot. The symptom is pain felt in the bottom of the heel that is worst in the morning. Pain also increases with activity.

2. Osteoarthritis of the Foot

Constant wear and tear as well as one’s age can cause the cartilage of the foot to wear out. Some of the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis include deformity of the foot, swelling, and pain.

3. Gout

Gout is a condition where crystals would form in the joints. This causes inflammation and pain. In most cases, gout affects the big toe.

4. Athlete’s Foot

A disease of the foot caused by a fungus is called athlete’s foot. It usually starts in the middle of the fifth and fourth toes before spreading over the foot. Symptoms include the following.

  • Dry and Irritated Skin
  • Cracks in the Heels or Toes
  • Flaking Skin

This condition can be prevented by washing the feet regularly and keeping it dry before shoes are worn.

5. Rheumatoid Arthritis

It is a form of arthritis that is an autoimmune disorder. Joints are inflamed and damaged. The toe, ankle, and feet joints are usually affected by this condition.

6. Hallux Valgus

This is commonly known as bunions which are characterized by a bony prominence in the base of the big toe. It may likely cause the big toe to move inward. While this condition may be hereditary, ill-fitting shoes increase the risk of getting bunions. Other symptoms associated with this condition include the following.

  • Callus on the Bone Under the Big Toe
  • Difficulty Moving the Big Toe
  • Pain in the Big Toe Especially When Walking
  • Tenderness Felt on the Big Toe
  • Visible Bump on the side of Foot

7. Achilles Tendon Injury

When there is pain felt in the back of one’s heel, it may be indicative of an underlying problem with the Achilles tendon. A nagging daily pain is called tendinitis.

8. Diabetic Foot Injection

Diabetic individuals are at risk of getting infections in the feet. An infection of the feet is manifested by pain, swelling, redness, and warmth.

9. Edema

Swelling in the feet is usually normal after an extended period of standing or walking. However, swelling that lasts long after standing or walking may be indicative of a severe health condition. Edema may be a sign of liver, kidney, or heart problems.

10. Calluses and Corns

These are a severe buildup of skin on the feet. While calluses are somewhat circular, corns are cone-shaped and pointy. Both conditions are painful and uncomfortable.

11. Heel Spurs

This is abnormal bone growth in the heel. It causes pain when standing or walking. Individuals who have plantar fasciitis are more at risk for developing a heel spur.

12. Ingrown Toenails

A toenail, especially that which has been cut inappropriately, may grow into the skin causing pain. It may also lead to an infection which is characterized by swelling, redness, and pain.

13. Flat Feet

When the arch of an individual’s foot is flat, it may cause other problems in the foot. However, this problem can be solved with the aid of orthotics.

14. Onychomycosis

This condition is commonly known as a nail fungal infection. The fingernails may crumble and be discolored.

15. Mallet Toes

When the joint located in between the toe becomes difficult to straighten, it causes a downward movement of the toe.

16. Metatarsalgia

It is characterized by pain and swelling in the ball of one’s foot. Ill-fitting shoes and strenuous physical activity are the causes of this condition.

17. Claw Toes

This is an abnormal contraction of one’s toe joints that leads to a claw-like look of the feet. It can be painful and may require custom footwear.

18. Fractures

Bones in the feet that are mostly fractured from repetitive use or injury are the metatarsal bones. Signs of fracture include bruising, redness, swelling, and pain.

19. Plantar Wart

This is a viral infection affecting the sole. A callus is formed at the center and is characterized by a dark spot.

20. Morton’s Neuroma

Nerve tissue that grows in the middle of the fourth and third toes is called a neuroma. It causes a burning and painful sensation.


Treatments for the conditions mentioned above include the following.

  • Orthotics: These are customized shoes that improve the shape and arch of one’s foot.
  • Physical Therapy: It includes exercises aimed at improving the support, strength, and flexibility of the ankles and feet.
  • Surgery: In critical cases, surgery is needed to repair the feet.
  • Medications: Prescription medications are given to manage the symptoms of the conditions mentioned above, specifically for pain such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen.
  • Antibiotics: For infections caused by bacteria, antibacterial is prescribed. These are administered intravenously or orally.
  • Antifungals: For fungal infections such as Athlete’s foot, oral or topical antifungal medications are prescribed.
  • Cortisone Injection: Steroid injections are administered for a reduction in inflammation and pain.


Common Conditions Affecting the Feet Infographic

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