Foot Pain and Problems | University of Maryland Medical Center

Foot Pain and Problems | University of Maryland Medical Center

Foot Pain
UMMC's Orthopaedics Program ranked as one of the nation's 50 best by U.S. News & World Report's 2010 "Best Hospitals" survey.

What are common foot problems:

The foot is a complex system of 38 bones connected by numerous joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It bears the full weight of the body and is susceptible to many internal and external stresses that can cause pain, inflammation, injury, or disease. For example:


Heel Pain

Morton's Neuroma

Corns and Calluses


Plantar Warts

What is a bunion?

A bunion is an inflammation and thickening of the bursa in the joint of the big toe. The skin over the joint may become swollen and tender, the joint may become enlarged, and the big toe may become displaced. Bunions may have no identified cause, but may be:

inherited as a family trait

caused by shoes that fit poorly

the result of arthritis or other degenerative joint disease

Treatment for a bunion(s) includes wearing shoes that conform to the shape of the foot and do not cause pressure areas. Several types of surgery are available that may relieve pain and improve the appearance of the foot.

What is heel pain?

This is a common condition that often begins without noticeable injury. Pain felt under the heel, usually while standing or walking, is most commonly caused by inflammation of the connective tissue on the sole of the foot where it attaches to the heel bone.

Most of the time, this condition will heal without treatment, although medication to reduce swelling of the soft tissues and shoe inserts may relieve the pressure and pain. Steroid injections or walking casts may be used for cases that do not properly heal. Occasionally surgery is recommended.

What is Morton's neuroma?

Morton's neuroma is a pinched nerve that usually causes pain between the third and fourth toes. When foot bones are squeezed together, the nerve responds by forming a neuroma, a build up of extra tissue in the nerve.

Treatment may involve wearing wider shoes and taking oral medications to decrease the swelling around the nerve. A pad on the sole of the foot to spread the bones may also help. Cortisone injected around the nerve or surgery to remove the neuroma may be used to correct the problem.

Corns and calluses on the feet:

These are caused by pressure on the skin, and occur when bones of the foot press against the shoe or when two bones press together. Common sites for corns and calluses are on the big toe and the fifth toe, and soft corns can occur between the toes. Common sites for calluses are underneath the ends of the foot bones (metatarsals).

Treatment for corns and calluses may involve any/all of the following:

modifying shoes to relieve pressure on the skin

pads positioned carefully over the corn or callus

surgery to remove a bony prominence causing the corn or callus

What are hammertoes?

This is a deformity that causes the toe to have a permanent sideways bend in the middle joint. Tight shoes often aggravate the toe, which results in pain over the prominent bony areas on the top of the toe and at the end of the toe.

Treatment for hammertoes may involve any/all of the following:

modifying shoes to accommodate the deformed toe

pads positioned carefully over the bony prominence

surgery to remove a bony prominence

What are plantar warts?

Plantar warts occur on the sole of the foot as a result of an infection or a specific virus. They look like calluses, and are like other warts, but grow inward because of weight placed on them. They may cause severe pain when walking.

Treatment for plantar warts may involve any/all of the following:

applications of salicylic acid to soften the overlying callus and expose the virus

injection of medication into the warts

freezing the warts with liquid nitrogen


For more information about UM Orthopaedics or to make an appointment, call toll-free at 1-877-771-4567 or 410-448-6400, send us an e-mail or complete our secure contact form.

This page was last updated: May 10, 2013
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