This Is What Those Aching Feet Really Mean

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After a long day exploring a new city or a strenuous sweat session at the gym, you can pretty much expect your feet to feel like they're on fire when you finally get a chance to sit down. However, if you're at a desk at work all day and somehow still find yourself dealing with aching feet, there could be bigger issues brewing—ones that may even require a podiatrist appointment to sort out. If your feet are aching on a regular basis, keep reading to learn about some of the most common causes of foot pain.

You have flattened arches.

Flatfoot Aching Feet foot pain

The root cause of your aching feet might be your arches—or rather, lack thereof. If your feet are unusually flat, you might have a condition known as flatfoot. Though it's usually painless, the Mayo Clinic notes that the condition can cause foot pain, particularly in the heel or arch area. If your doctor diagnoses you with flatfoot and determines that the condition is the cause of your pain, he or she can order you custom arch supports to limit symptoms.

You have Raynaud's disease.

Woman Wearing Fuzzy Socks Aching Feet foot pain

Raynaud's disease, or Raynaud's phenomenon, is a condition characterized by decreased blood flow to the extremities. According to the Arthritis Foundation, people with Raynaud's in their feet often experience tingling and numbness in response to even the most minor of temperature changes—and the worse the temperature change, the more painful the reaction. Typically, you can tell whether your aching feet are the result of Raynaud's based on whether they're turning white and/or blue, as this is one of the telltale signs of the condition.

You need new running shoes.

zoomed in image of a mans running shoes Aching Feet foot pain

Use your running shoes for longer than you should and you might find that your feet are in severe pain every time you step out for a jog. That's because the more worn-out your shoes become, the less padding and protection they provide for your feet against the harsh pavement. So, how often should you be swapping out those sneakers? According to the shoe experts at REI, your running shoes need to be replaced every 300 to 500 miles.

Your tendon is inflamed.

Man Holding His Foot in Pain Aching Feet foot pain

Tendinitis—or inflammation of the tendon—can occur in both the ankle and heel of the foot. This condition—which causes tenderness and joint pain—is most commonly caused by repeatedly putting stress on a tendon, like through repetitive motion or when you wear running shoes that are worn out.

You have plantar fasciitis.

Man Relieving His Foot pain

If your feet are aching and you don't know why, plantar fasciitis might be the culprit. According to the Mayo Clinic, this condition—which is caused by the inflammation of a thick band of tissue in the bottom of your foot—is one of the most common causes of heel pain, and it tends to cause intense discomfort that peaks in the morning and slowly gets better the more you walk it off.

You have a heel spur.

Woman Getting a Heel Exam Aching Feet foot pain

As Edward R. Laskowski, MD, co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center, explained via the Mayo Clinic website, a heel spur is a "bony growth that usually begins on the front of your heel bone and points toward the arch of your foot." Though most people with this type of growth won't experience discomfort as a result—the Cleveland Clinic notes that just one out of every 20 patients with a heel spur feels pain of any sort—it's worth getting your foot checked out.

You have gout.

Orthopedist Looking at a Patient's Foot Aching Feet foot pain

Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when uric acid, a waste product, transforms into needle-like crystals and lodges into the body's tissues. According to the Arthritis Foundation, one of the most common first signs of this inflammatory disease is pain and swelling in the big toe that often follows an illness or an injury.

You have bunions.

Woman with a bunion on her feet aching feet foot pain

Have you ever noticed how some people have bony protrusions coming out of the inside of their feet, making their big toe assume an unusual angle? Those are called bunions, and though they're relatively common, they can also become painful (and even cause arthritis) as they slowly morph the big toe bone. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, mild bunion pain is usually relieved by wearing wider shoes and investing in bunion-shield pads—but if you're having difficulty walking, then you've likely reached the point at which you should consider surgery.

You have osteoarthritis.

Woman Rubbing Her Foot in Pain Aching Feet foot pain

Osteoarthritis—the most common form of arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation—occurs when the cartilage that protects the bones in the joints breaks down, causing stiffness, pain, or even complete loss of movement. As far as the foot is concerned, osteoarthritis most commonly manifests in the big toe, but it is also known to affect the midfoot area, too. And while over-the-counter drugs, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can help relieve the pain associated with osteoarthritis for some patients, others only find relief through more invasive measures, like cortisone injections or surgery. And for more tips that will help you stay in optimal health, check out these 40 Things You Should Never Lie to Your Doctor About After 40.

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