What causes foot pain? 17 possible conditions
Your feet bear weight when you’re standing and help you get where you need to go. Because of this, foot pain is common. Foot pain refers to any pain or discomfort in one or more parts of the foot. Read more
Your feet bear weight when you’re standing and help you get where you need to go. Because of this, foot pain is common. Foot pain refers to any pain or discomfort in one or more parts of the foot. These parts may include the:
The pain can range from mild to severe, and it may last a short time or be an ongoing issue. Many measures can help relieve your foot pain.
What causes foot pain?
Foot pain can occur due to certain lifestyle choices or a medical condition. Common causes include:
One of the main causes of foot pain is wearing shoes that don’t fit properly. Wearing high-heeled shoes can often cause foot pain because they place a great deal of pressure on the toes.
You can also develop foot pain if you become injured during high-impact exercise or sports activities, such as jogging or intense aerobics.
Common medical issues
Various medical issues are closely associated with foot pain.
Your feet are especially susceptible to the pain that occurs due to arthritis. Thirty-three joints in the foot can occur due to this condition.
Diabetes can also cause complications and several disorders of the feet. People with diabetes are more prone to:
- foot ulcers or sores
- nerve damage in the feet
- clogged or hardened arteries in the legs and feet
You’re also more at risk for having foot pain if you:
- are overweight
- are obese
- are pregnant
- have a foot injury such as a sprain, fracture, or tendinitis
Other potential causes of foot pain include:
- ingrown toenails
- medications that cause swelling of the feet
- neuromas, which are growths or tumors of the nerve tissue
- hammer toes
- athlete’s foot
- Haglund’s deformity, which is an enlargement of the back of the heel
- peripheral arterial disease
- fallen arches
- plantar fasciitis
- arthritis of the joints
- gout, especially affecting the great toe
How to ease foot pain at home
Your at-home treatment options will vary depending on the pain you’re experiencing and its cause. However, following these tips may help relieve your discomfort:
- Apply ice to the affected area.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever.
- Use foot pads to prevent rubbing on the affected area.
- Elevate the foot that’s causing you to have pain.
- Rest your foot as much as possible.
When to see your doctor
Many people who regularly experience foot pain are aware of what triggers it and they know the best way to manage their pain. However, you should see a doctor as soon as possible if:
- your pain came on suddenly and is severe
- your foot pain is due to a recent injury
- you cannot place any weight on your foot after an injury
- you have foot pain and a medical condition that interferes with blood flow
- the area that’s causing you pain has an open wound
- the area that’s causing you pain is red or inflamed
- you also have a fever
What will happen at the appointment?
During your appointment, the doctor will observe your posture and how you walk. They’ll also examine your back, legs, and feet.
They’ll want to know the details of your foot pain, such as when it started, what parts of the feet are affected, and how severe it is. If necessary, your doctor will order an X-ray.
The treatment for your condition depends on the cause. For some people, something as simple as shoe inserts can provide a great deal of relief. Other people may need:
- a cast
- wart removal
- physical therapy
How to prevent chronic foot pain
Follow these tips to help prevent ongoing foot pain:
- Choose comfortable, roomy, and well-cushioned shoes.
- Avoid shoes with large heels and narrow toe areas.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Stretch before engaging in vigorous exercise.
- Practice good foot hygiene.
- Always wear footwear when you’re outdoors to protect your feet.
Although foot pain is common, it’s not a normal part of life. You should seek medical help if you have foot pain that hasn’t resolved after a week or two of at-home treatment.
- Arthritis. (n.d.).Retrieved from http://www.apma.org/learn/FootHealth.cfm?ItemNumber=977
- Foot Health. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.apma.org/learn/FootHealthList.cfm?navItemNumber=498
- Medications to treat feet. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/where-it-hurts/foot-heel-and-toe-pain/treatment/foot-arthritis-medication.php
See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.
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