Pain or discomfort can be felt anywhere in the foot. You may have pain in the heel, toes, arch, instep, or bottom of foot (sole).
Pain - foot
Foot pain may be due to:
- Being on your feet for long periods of time
- Being overweight
- A foot deformity that you were born with or develops later
- Shoes that fit poorly or do not have much cushioning
- Too much walking or other sports activity
The following can cause foot pain:
- Arthritis and gout -- Common in the big toe, which becomes red, swollen, and very tender.
- Broken bones.
- Bunions -- A bump at the base of the big toe from wearing narrow-toed shoes or from abnormal bone alignment.
- 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 neuroma -- A thickening of nerve tissue between the toes.
- Nerve damage from diabetes.
- Plantar fasciitis.
- Plantar warts -- Sores on the soles of your feet due to pressure.
- Stress fracture.
- Nerve problems.
- Heel spurs or Achilles tendinitis.
The following steps may help relieve your foot pain:
- Apply ice to reduce pain and swelling.
- Keep your painful foot elevated as much as possible.
- Reduce your activity until you feel better.
- Wear shoes that fit your feet and are right for the activity you are doing.
- Wear foot pads to prevent rubbing and irritation.
- Use an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. (Talk to your health care provider first if you have a history of ulcer or liver problems.)
Other home care steps depend on what is causing your foot pain.
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 toes, a wide toe box.
- 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.
- Stretch your Achilles tendon. A tight Achilles tendon can lead to poor foot mechanics.
- 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.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider if:
- You have sudden, severe foot pain.
- Your foot pain began following an injury, especially if your foot is bleeding or bruising, or you cannot put weight on it.
- You have redness or swelling of the joint, an open sore or ulcer on your foot, or a fever.
- You have pain in your foot and have diabetes or a disease that affects blood flow.
- Your foot does not feel better after using at-home treatments for 1 to 2 weeks.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your provider will do a physical exam. Your provider will ask questions about your symptoms and medical history.
X-rays or MRI 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 splint or a cast, if you broke a bone
- Shoes that protect your feet
- Removal of plantar warts, corns, or calluses by a foot specialist
- Orthotics, or shoe inserts
- Physical therapy to relieve tight or overused muscles
- Foot surgery
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