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5 Conditions That Can Cause Foot Pain That You Would Never Expect

A transparent rendering of a human torso, showing some of the complexity of human bodies

The body is a wonderfully complex piece of machinery and whether you believe in intelligent design, evolution, or creationism, there is an elegance in how it all connects together.

When I take a medical history, my patients are often surprised at how many questions I ask, and equally why I ask them. I actually kind of get it too - I'd be surprised if I seeing a podiatrist and they started asking me about my gut. There are lots of good reasons for it, and so here are ten really common health conditions that I see causing pain in my podiatry clinic.

Thyroid problems can cause foot pain

A transparent graphic of a human neck and shoulders with the thyroid gland highlighted

The thyroid is a hormone-producing power house which is found in the front of your neck and the hormones it produces are responsible for your energy levels and metabolism.

The thyroid can cause problems for feet in a few different ways:

  1. Underactive thyroids can cause weight gain, and this may result in your foot being put under lots of pressure from the increased weight it has to carry.

  2. Thyroid conditions may also cause skin changes such as dry skin or sweaty feet

  3. Thyroid conditions can affect the nerves and may cause numbness or burning sensations in the feet

Psoriasis can also cause joint and tendon pain in the feet

A person applying cream to a patch of psoriasis on their elbow

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition which causes the body to produce skin too quickly. This causes increased turnover of the skin and often shows up as dry and flakey skin over the knees and elbows.

Psoriasis can also cause damage to the joints and inflammation where tendons join to bones. These are known as psoriatic arthritis and enthesitis, respectively.

The joint damage can be particularly problematic too, since psoriasis attacks the small joints in the fingers and toes and it can cause a lot of damage in a short amount of time.

Crohn's disease can also cause foot pain

A graphic showing a man clenching his belly with pain, and a graphic representation of the stomach, small and large colons.

Well, actually, this is a bit of a split-off from the psoriasis point. Crohn's disease is, loosely speaking, psoriasis inside the body (really loosely speaking!). It has been the case that sometimes people with Crohn's disease may have very low-grade psoriasis.

This means that, sometimes when treating someone with foot pain, we have to consider if their foot pain has been caused by an injury, or if other health problems might be causing the issue.

Food poisoning & STDs can cause foot pain

A man clenching his stomach with bacteria floating over the top of the picture

Some bacterial infections can cause Reiter's syndrome, otherwise known as reactive arthritis. Reiter's syndrome is a combination of:

  1. Joint arthritis and enthesitis

  2. Uveitis or conjunctivitis.

  3. Urethritis, cervicitis or diarrhea

This is the body's unfortunate way of reacting to bacterial infections and can be quite unpleasant... No shit, right?

This being said, one of the parts of this that can drag on, even after treatment is joint pain and enthesitis. Unfortunately, although podiatry treatment can help ease the symptoms, if you are having treatment for foot pain and you just aren't getting better: then letting your podiatrist know about any previous infections can be helpful.

Acne can cause ingrowing toenails!

A brunette girl in a white t-shirt staring at her face in a make-up mirror. She has acne on her cheek.

Well, sort of. It's actually the treatment for acne that can cause ingrowing toenails - this is Roaccutane and the other retinoids.

Although, sometimes having treatment for the ingrowing nails is worth it, if you are on a 'short' course of roaccutane, or near the end of treatment, then you may be able to avoid having anything too invasive done.

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