Foot Pain: 21 Causes, Treatment, Prevention, and More
What Do You need to Know About Foot Pain?
Our foot is an intricate network consisting of bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. A foot can be prone to pain and injury despite being strong enough to bear our body weight.
Foot pain is simply the physical discomfort in our foot. It can affect a part of the foot, from toes to the Achilles tendons at the back of our heel.
Mild foot pain responds well to home treatments; however, it can take some time to resolve. We often need to seek help from a medical professional to evaluate our foot pain, mainly when it follows an injury.
Our feet bear our weight when we stand and help us get where we need to go. Foot pain is common because of this, and the pain can be in the following parts of the feet:
Foot pain can be a result of overuse, injury, or conditions that can cause inflammation of bones, tendons, or ligaments. Arthritis is one of the most common causes of foot pain. Nerve injuries may also result in numbness, intense burning pain, or tingling in the foot.
21 common causes of foot pain include:
- Achilles tendinitis or tendon rupture
- Avulsion fracture
- Bone spurs
- Broken toe or foot
- Bursitis or joint inflammation
- Corns and calluses
- Diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage caused due to diabetes
- Gout or arthritis related to uric acid
- Haglund’s deformity
- Ingrown toenails, high heels, or poorly fitting shoes
- Morton’s neuroma
- Osteoarthritis or a disease that causes the breakdown of joints, osteomyelitis or bone fracture
- Paget’s bone disease
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Plantar fasciitis or warts
- Retrocalcaneal bursitis
- Stress fractures
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome
Most of the people have foot pain due to wearing poorly fitting shoes. Wearing high heels often causes foot pain as they place a great deal of pressure on our toes. We can also have foot pain if you become injured during high impact sports activities or exercises, such as intense aerobics or jogging.
Numerous medical issues associated with foot pain. Our feet are especially susceptible to the pain occurring due to arthritis. Arthritis can affect any of the 33 joints of our foot.
Diabetes mellitus may also cause complications and disorders of feet. People with diabetes are prone to:
- Sores or foot ulcers
- Nerve damage in the feet
- Hardened or clogged arteries in feet or leg
People are also having a high risk of foot pain if they:
- Are pregnant
- Are obese or overweight
- Have a foot injury such as fracture, sprain, or tendinitis
Foot pain can be due to many different deformities, diseases, improper footwear, biomechanical conditions, or injuries.
Viruses, infectious diseases, bacteria, and fungi can also cause foot pain. Plantar warts on the foot's bottom are due to a virus that can cause pain and irritation. A fungus causes athlete’s foot which also leads to irritation and discomfort.
An ingrown toenail is also a common cause of foot pain. They occur when edges of our nail grow through or into our skin, which results in pain and often leads to infection. Diabetes patients are more prone to foot infections as they have a weaker immune system.
Systemic diseases like diabetes, gout, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis cause foot pain. Rheumatoid arthritis causes painful inflammation in the foot joints, accompanied by alignment changes leading to foot deformities.
Deformities like calcaneal varus, tarsal coalition, calcaneal valgus, claw toes, bunions, hammertoes, mallet toes, and bone spurs are the common foot pain causes.
Biomechanical abnormalities from tendons and muscle tightness or laxity, high arched feet or flatfeet leads to muscle deformities, imbalances, and foot pain.
Trauma from acute injuries or accumulative repetitive injuries can cause foot pain, as well—Micro-trauma injuries caused by running on uneven surfaces or by wearing poor force-absorption quality shoes.
Home Treatment for Foot Pain
The at-home treatment of foot pain varies according to the type and cause of pain. However, the following tips help relieve discomfort:
- Apply an ice pack to the affected or injured area
- Use footpads, preventing rubbing on the affected area
- Rest the foot as much as possible
- Elevate the foot that is causing pain
- Take over the counter pain medications
The treatment of foot pain depends on its cause. For some people, the pain of feet can be mild due to lifestyle issues or other common reasons for which over the counter can provide a great deal of relief. Other severe pain might need:
- Physical therapy
- A cast
- Wart removal
Preventing Foot Pain
To help prevent foot pain, follow the following tips:
- Choose comfortable, well-cushioned, and roomy shoes
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid high heels or narrow toe area shoes
- Practice good foot hygiene
- Stretch before doing vigorous exercise
- Wear shoes or any footwear while going outdoors
Foot pain is common; however, its not a normal part of our lives. Seek medical help if you have pain in your feet that hasn’t relieved after a couple of weeks of at-home treatment.
Facts About Foot Pain
- Our foot is a complex anatomical structure that gets affected by disease within our body or foot itself.
- The arches of our foot are the main structure that controls the amount of ground force that the foot transmits into our body.
- Seek medical advice when foot pain interferes with the usual daily life activities.
- The foot contains joints and bones, muscle/tendon, ligaments, nerve, blood vessels, soft tissue structure, and skin. Any problem or disease in any of these structures can cause foot pain.
- The foot pain treatment depends upon the cause of pain and involves stretching, strengthening, immobilization, physical therapy, medications, and surgery.
Diagnosing Foot Pain
Proper diagnosis of foot pain is essential in planning its treatment. A good guideline is to compare the injured and the uninjured sides. Comparing affected and unaffected sides provide an insight into the severity and nature of the pain.
There are four grades of pain:
- Pain during activity
- Before and after pain, not affecting the activity
- Before, during, and after pain, affecting the activity
- Severe pain that makes it impossible to perform
A health care provider asks questions to determine how the pain began. It will be helpful to tell the doctor about when and how it started, how it affects when it bothers, and what you may do to make the pain better. A thorough physical examination may also help evaluate for any injuries causing foot pain.
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