The foot is a complex structure consisting in dozens of bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, and over a hundred tendons. Properly functioning feet are essential to walking and standing unaided.

Our feet must fulfil four basic functions:

  • act as a rigid lever to create the propulsive force needed for walking
  • transfer the rotational forces produced by the hip
  • adapt to uneven surfaces
  • absorb impact against the ground

To fulfil these functions, the muscles and tendons must work together with bones, ligaments and joints. If one of these components does not function properly, all others will be affected.

Pathologies that the foot may suffer

Because the human foot has so many parts, over time we have distinguished a wide range of pathologies related to the foot. Some of the most common conditions affecting the foot include:

Treatments for foot pathologies

Soft tissue injuries and pathologies can sometimes be treated with anti-inflammatory medication, physiotherapy, or extracorporeal shockwave therapy

Foot surgery may sometimes recommended for hammer toe, claw toe, bunions, structural foot problems, or neurological problems. In addition to open surgery, new techniques such as percutaneous foot surgery have been developed in recent years involving smaller incisions and fewer post-surgical complications.

Specialist who treats foot pathologies

Podiatrists specialise in the examination, assessment, and treatment of foot problems. If you see your GP about a foot problem and they are unable to make a diagnosis themselves they are likely to refer you to a podiatrist. In the UK podiatrists are also known as chiropodists.

Depending on the treatment recommended, you may also see a physiotherapist, radiologist, or orthopaedic surgeon.

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