Exploring the anatomy of the foot and common conditions

The human foot is a marvel of engineering, a complex structure that bears the weight of our entire body and facilitates movement.

The foot houses a remarkable 26 bones, including the tarsal, metatarsal, and phalangeal bones, working harmoniously to provide structure, support, and flexibility. Tendons, tough fibrous tissues, play a crucial role in connecting muscles to these bones, allowing for coordinated movements. A network of over 30 joints, such as the ankle and subtalar joints, ensures the foot's adaptability to various surfaces and movements.

Often overlooked, the foot plays a pivotal role in maintaining balance and supporting daily activities, therefore, understanding this intricate anatomy is key to appreciating the delicate balance required for optimal foot function and the importance of proper care in maintaining overall foot health.

A quick journey in the anatomy of the foot

  • The toes, or phalanges, provide balance and contribute to propulsion during walking. Each toe has three phalanges, except for the big toe, which has two.
  • The arch of the foot, formed by the tarsal and metatarsal bones, acts as a shock absorber and helps distribute body weight evenly.
  • The heel, or calcaneus, is the largest bone in the foot and plays a crucial role in supporting body weight and connecting with the Achilles tendon.
  • The ankle joint connects the foot to the lower leg and allows for up-and-down movement. It comprises three bones: the tibia, fibula, and talus.
  • The sole, or plantar surface, bears the brunt of our body weight. It contains thick connective tissue called the plantar fascia, vital for maintaining the foot's arch.

Common foot conditions: navigating the landscape of foot health

Our feet, often the unsung heroes of our daily lives, can encounter various conditions that may impact overall well-being. Understanding these common foot ailments is crucial for early recognition and effective management:

Plantar Fasciitis

A prevalent condition, plantar fasciitis involves inflammation of the plantar fascia, causing heel pain. This connective tissue supports the foot's arch, and issues often arise due to overuse, improper footwear, or biomechanical issues.


Bunions are bony protrusions at the base of the big toe, resulting from the misalignment of the joint. Genetics, improper footwear, and abnormal foot mechanics contribute to their development, leading to pain and difficulty wearing certain shoes.

Ingrown Toenails

Occurring when the edge of a toenail grows into the surrounding skin, ingrown toenails can be painful and susceptible to infection. Improper nail trimming, tight footwear, and genetic factors can contribute to their occurrence.

Achilles Tendonitis

The Achilles tendon, connecting the calf muscles to the heel bone, can become inflamed due to overuse or strain. This condition results in pain, swelling, and reduced mobility, often affecting athletes and individuals with increased physical activity, sometimes resulting in the need for surgery.

Flat Feet (Pes Planus)

Flat feet occur when the arches of the feet collapse, causing the entire sole to touch the ground. This condition can be congenital or develop over time, leading to discomfort and an increased risk of other foot problems.

Morton's Neuroma

Morton's neuroma is a thickening of the tissue around the nerves leading to the toes. It often causes a sharp, burning pain in the ball of the foot, commonly between the third and fourth toes.

Hammer Toe

Hammer toe is a deformity where one or more toes bend abnormally at the middle joint, resembling a hammer. It can result from wearing ill-fitting shoes or muscle imbalances, causing pain and difficulty in shoe-wearing.

Recognising the signs and symptoms of these conditions is crucial for seeking timely medical attention. Mr Francesc Malagelada is dedicated to diagnosing and treating various foot and ankle conditions, providing personalised treatment plans to address your specific needs and help you get back on your feet comfortably. Contact us and book an appointment today!

Also have a look at our foot and ankle treatments page to read about the many conditions that can affect their function and learn more about the best available solutions. Our blog is also a great place if you’d like to stay updated on the latest orthopaedic news.

This article is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult your physician for personalised guidance. In case of a medical emergency, contact your doctor or emergency services.