Symptoms

Foot pain

Definition

Pain or discomfort can be felt anywhere in the foot, including the heel, toes, arch, instep, or bottom of foot (sole).See also:Ankle painHeel pain

Alternative Names

Pain - foot

Common Causes

Foot pain may be due to:AgingBeing on your feet for long periods of timeBeing overweightFoot deformity that you were born withInjuryShoes that fit poorly or do not have much cushioningToo much walking or other sports activityThe following can cause foot pain:Arthritis and gout -- common in the big toe, which becomes red, swollen, and very tender Broken bonesBunions: A bump at the base of the big toe from wearing narrow-toed shoes.Calluses and corns: Thickened skin from rubbing or pressure. Calluses are on the balls of the feet or heels. Corns appear on the top of your toes.Hammer toes: Toes that curl downward into a claw-like position.Fallen arches: Also called flat feet.Morton's neuroma, a thickening of nerve tissue between the toesPlantar fasciitisPlantar warts: Sores on the soles of your feet due to pressure  SprainsStress fracture

Home Care

The following steps may help relieve your foot pain:Apply ice to reduce pain and swelling.Raise your painful foot as much as possible.Reduce your activity until you feel better.Wear foot pads to prevent rubbing and irritation.Use an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. (Talk to your doctor first if you have a history of ulcer or liver problems.)Other home care steps depend on what is causing your foot pain.

Call your health care provider if

Call your doctor or nurse if:You have sudden, severe foot painYour foot pain began following an injury, especially if your foot is bleeding or bruising, or you cannot put weight on itYou have redness or swelling of the joint, an open sore or ulcer on your foot, or a feverYou have pain in your foot and have diabetes or a disease that affects blood flowYour foot does not feel better after using at-home treatments for 1-2 weeks

What to expect at your health care provider's office

Your doctor will perform a physical examination, paying particular attention to your feet, legs, and back, your posture, and how you walk.Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and medical history, such as:Do you have pain in one or both feet?What part of the foot hurts?Does the pain move from joint to joint, or does it always occur in the same place?Did the pain begin suddenly or slowly?How long have you had the pain?Is it worse at night or when you first wake up in the morning?Is it getting better?Does anything make your pain feel better or worse?Do you have any other symptoms?Do you have numbness in your toes?X-rays may be done to help your doctor diagnose the cause of your foot pain.Treatment depends on the exact cause of the foot pain. Treatment may include:A cast, if you broke a boneRemoval of plantar warts, corns, or calluses by a foot specialistOrthotics, or shoe insertsPhysical therapy to relieve tight or overused musclesFoot surgery

Prevention

The following steps can prevent foot problems and foot pain:Wear comfortable, properly fitting shoes, with good arch support and cushioning.Wear shoes with plenty of room around the ball of your foot and toe.Avoid narrow-toed shoes and high heels.Wear sneakers as often as possible, especially when walking.Replace running shoes frequently.Warm up and cool down when exercising. Always stretch first. Increase your amount of exercise slowly over time to avoid putting excessive strain on your feet.Lose weight if you need to.Learn exercises to strengthen your feet and avoid pain. This can help flat feet and other potential foot problems.

References

Koenig MD. Ligament injuries. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:section C.Baer GS, Keene JS. Tendon injuries of the foot and ankle. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:section D.Brodsky JW, Bruck N. Stress fractures of the foot and ankle. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:section E.Klein SE. Conditions of the forefoot. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:section H.Hirose CB, Clanton TO, Wood RM. Etiology of injury to the foot and ankle. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez’s Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:section J.Price MD, Chiodo CP. Foot and ankle pain. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Harris ED Jr, et al, eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 43.Silverstein JA, Moeller JL, Hutchinson MR. Common issues in orthopedics.In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa:Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 30.

Review Date: 3/1/2012
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington; C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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