Many people who experience foot pain often wonder why they have it. While some foot conditions are caused by factors such as wearing unsupportive shoes or injuries, others can be inherited.
Inherited foot conditions are typically related to the way bones, muscles or joints are formed. Some common inherited foot conditions include plantar fasciitis, bunions, hammertoes, and overlapping toes. These conditions are often caused by foot types such as flat feet or high arches, which can put a person at a higher risk of developing them.
Other foot conditions are inherited as a result of biologic processes. Examples are diabetic foot ulcers and arthritis.
However, these inherited foot conditions can also have a behavioral component. So, while you may want to lay all the blame on your mom or dad, there’s usually a lot you can do to prevent your condition from getting worse or coming back.
Here are 6 foot conditions you can inherit.
1. Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis or heel pain is a perfect example of a foot condition that can be inherited and can be alleviated by what we do. Many people with plantar fasciitis either have flat feet or high arches, both of which can put them at greater risk for developing this condition.
While there is nothing you can do about your foot type, here are 3 things you can do to stop your heel pain from coming back.
Get Fit for Custom Orthotics
Since flat feet or high arches are often a root cause for plantar fasciitis and other heel pain syndromes, getting fit for custom orthotics will help balance your foot mechanics. If you’re heel pain is mild, you can try over-the-counter orthotics, but for moderate or more severe pain custom orthotics work better. Once you have your orthotics, be sure to wear them all the time to prevent your foot condition from recurring.
Wear Shoes with Adequate Support
Many people who develop heel pain also wear shoes that don’t provide adequate support. Because people with flat feet tend to pronate or roll their feet inwards when they walk or run, wearing shoes that help prevent pronation is another key to stopping heel pain.
People with high arches need strong midsole support since they place too much pressure on the balls of their feet and heels, increasing their risk for plantar fasciitis.
Stretch Your Calf Muscles
In addition to inheriting your foot type you also inherit body structure. Many people who develop heel pain have very tight calf muscles. Fortunately, tight calf muscles can be alleviated through adequate stretching. Learn more about tight calf muscles and how to stretch them here.
Have you ever noticed your mother or grandmother’s bunions and wondered if that’s why you have them? Yes, bunions are also inherited. While you don’t inherit the bunions themselves, you can inherit the foot problems that lead to them—flat feet and an unstable joint at the base of your big toe.
While men can also inherit bunions, woman are far more likely to develop them due to weaker connective tissue and wearing high heeled shoes.
Luckily there are some things you can do to prevent your bunions from getting worse.
Wearing Custom Orthotics
Bunions can get worse over time if they aren’t sufficiently treated. Wearing custom orthotics is one of the best things you can do to keep your feet aligned and prevent the bunion from getting larger.
Changing Your Shoes
High heeled shoes are the worst shoes you can wear if you’re prone to bunions. They cause your weight to shift toward the ball of your foot which adds pressure to your vulnerable toe joint. Women who wear high heeled shoes are more likely to accelerate their development of bunions. For that reason, it’s important to keep your shoe height at one inch or lower or greatly limit your high heel wear.
Wearing shoes with a wider toe box will also help take the pressure off that area of your foot to prevent your bunions from worsening. They can also prevent pain since a wider shoe can prevent your bunions from rubbing.
3. Hammertoes and Overlapping Toes
Just like bunions, hammertoes and overlapping toes are also inherited due to foot type. If you have bunions, you’re much more likely to develop either of these two toe conditions. That’s because as the bunion progresses the big toe shifts toward the outside of the foot causing the smaller toes to move as well. Clawing of the toes is also very common in people with significant high arches or flat feet.
To prevent hammertoes and overlapping toes, it’s important to wear custom orthotics and change your shoe type, just like you would for bunions.
4. Ingrown Toenails
If your toenail is too wide for your nail bed, you could be more prone to developing an ingrown toenail. While there are several other causes for ingrown toenails that you can control, the shape of your toe or toenail is not one of them.
To help reduce your chance of developing an ingrown toenail, it’s important to do the following:
- Properly cut your toenails—toenails should be cut straight across and not too short.
- Wear everyday shoes that fit— even adults can experience an increase in shoe size, so before you buy new shoes be sure to get your feet measured. Shoes that are too short can cause your toenails to hit the top of the shoe, however, shoes that are too long can also cause your feet to slip forward.
- Wear athletic shoes that fit---soccer players and rock climbers should avoid wearing cleats or rock-climbing shoes that are too tight.
Finally avoid doing any ingrown toenail surgery on yourself. You’re much more likely to develop an infection if you do so.
5. Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Diabetes can be inherited, and this puts patients at risk for developing diabetic foot ulcers. While diabetes can’t always be avoided, there’s a lot that can be done to prevent foot ulcers.
Develop A Daily Foot Routine
If you have diabetes, develop a daily foot routine to help reduce your chances of getting a foot ulcer. Inspecting your feet on a regular basis will help you identify any suspicious skin changes. Using a mirror can make this easier to do. Proper shoes, socks, and moisturizer will greatly help in keeping your skin intact.
Get A Comprehensive Diabetic Foot Exam
You should get a Comprehensive Diabetic Foot Exam at least once a year, but sometimes twice depending on your health. Your podiatrist will let you know what’s best. This examination will provide you with more information about the health of your feet and what you can do to prevent foot ulcers.
Contacting Your Podiatrist Immediately
While you can’t always avoid a diabetic foot ulcer, it’s extremely important to notify your podiatrist if you develop one. Your podiatrist will treat your ulcer to heal it and prevent it from getting worse. Foot ulcers can lead to infection and amputation if not cared for properly and in a timely manner. It’s important to choose a podiatrist with experience in treating diabetic patients. Dr. Rion Berg was the Chief Podiatrist at the Northwest Hospital Wound Care Center for 20 years.
6. Foot Arthritis
Most forms of foot arthritis are inherited, although some can develop because of previous injuries and trauma. Common types of foot arthritis include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.
While each of these types of arthritis have some differences in terms of how they’re treated, the following modalities can help relieve arthritis pain.
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Custom orthotics
- MLS laser therapy—has been shown to reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis
- Proper footwear---the focus is removing pressure from painful areas
- Switch to low impact exercises like swimming and biking
In conclusion, foot conditions can be inherited and caused by various factors such as foot type, however, it is important to take preventative measures to prevent them from worsening or recurring. By taking these measures, it can help alleviate pain and improve the overall health of your feet.