Foot and ankle complaints result in more than 5.3 million visits to doctors each year. Foot pain can result from overuse, traumatic injury such as a fall, or from diseases such as diabetes. The following are just a few of complications that can occur with feet and ankles.

Arthritis is the wearing away of the protective tissue layer that covers the bone ends inside joints. This layer acts as a shock absorber. As it wears, the joint becomes achy, swollen and eventually deformed. Arthritis can occur at any age after an injury to a joint.

Bunions are misaligned big toe joints. These joints become swollen and tender, causing the first joint of the big toes to slant outward and the second joint to slant inward at a sharp angle. Bunions affect more women than men. Although a tendency to have bunions can run in families, wearing poor-fitting shoes (that are pointy, too narrow or too tight) can cause bunions. Treatment varies according to the severity of the deformity and the pain it causes, and can range from anti-inflammatory medication and new shoes with orthotic inserts to surgery.

Diabetes-related foot conditions include diabetic neuropathy, poor circulation and ulcers. These conditions are complications of diabetes and, if left untreated, can lead to amputation. Diabetic neuropathy affects the nerves in your foot and may leave your feet unable to feel pain, heat and cold. Poor circulation is poor blood flow in the feet as a result of narrowed blood vessels. This condition reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that get to your feet, which can make injuries heal more slowly. Ulcers are sores caused by too much pressure on a part of your foot. These sores may go undetected because of neuropathy, and may not heal properly because of poor circulation. People with diabetes must wear proper footwear, bathe feet daily, frequently inspect feet, protect feet from injury, work to improve circulation and have feet checked regularly by a doctor.

Heel spurs are abnormal growths on the heel bone. Heel spurs result from calcium deposits that form when tissue (plantar fascia) that runs from heel to forefoot pulls away from the heel area. This condition is often seen in people with flat feet, but can also be caused by obesity or poor shoe choices. Treatments can include wearing better-fitting shoes and using orthotic inserts, stretching exercises and losing weight.

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation caused by excessive stretching of the tissue (plantar fascia) that runs along the bottom of the foot. This excessive stretching can result from flat feet, high-arched feet, obesity, a sudden increase in physical activity or improperly fitting shoes. Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include pain on the bottom of your foot, near the inside where your heel and arch meet. Treatments can include wearing properly fitting shoes and using orthotic inserts, doing stretching exercises and losing weight.

Shin splints are an overuse injury that frequently affects athletes such as runners and figure skaters. It’s characterized by pain and tenderness in the front of the lower legs during or after exercise. Shin splints can occur as a result of wearing improper footwear during exercise or exercising on hard surfaces. Treatments can include ice, anti-inflammatory medicine, reducing intensity of exercise temporarily, stretching exercises, orthotic devices and physical therapy.