Foot Pain

Reviewed on 3/16/2022

What Is Foot Pain?

Picture of a man holding his foot.
A man experiences foot pain. 
  • The foot is a complex skeletal (anatomical) structure that may be affected by diseases within the body or the foot itself.
  • About 17%-42% of people have/had foot pain from other conditions.
  • The most common causes of foot pain are overuse activities and injury to the foot.
  • There are other causes of foot pain from medical problems that include:

Why Do My Feet Hurt?

A bunion can be very painful due to pressure and/or arthritis and lead to instability of other joints in the foot.

Common causes of foot pain include the following:

  1. Overuse injuries (from running or other activities) and direct injuries to the foot
  2. Plantar warts
  3. Blisters
  4. Bursitis
  5. Bunions
  6. Peripheral neuropathy
  7. Rheumatoid arthritis
  8. Peripheral vascular disease
  9.  tendinitis
  10. Tarsal tunnel syndrome
  11. Plantar fasciitis
  12. Osteomyelitis
  13. Cellulitis
  14. Corns
  15. Gout
  16. Calluses
  17. Pes planus
  18. Achilles tendinitis
  19. Osteoarthritis
  20. Hammertoes
  21. Broken bones
  22. Stress fractures

Risk factors for foot pain include

  • injury and
  • family history of foot pain.

What Are the Symptoms and Signs Associated with Foot Pain?

Black Toenail
If your toenail turns black, it's most likely a bruise under the nail, technically called a subungual hematoma.

Foot pain can be associated with the following:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Warmth
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising
  • Insomnia
  • Has difficulty sleeping
  • Poor function in daily activities
  • There can be limping and disability

What Procedures and Tests Diagnose the Cause of Foot Pain?

Ankle Sprains
All high heels boost the risk of an ankle sprain. The risk of developing osteoarthritis rises with a severe sprain or fracture of the ankle.
  • Foot pain is evaluated by carefully hearing the history of the symptoms related to the foot pain (when it began, how it is aggravated, when it is relieved, etc.). It is also diagnosed by examination of the foot to evaluate swelling, warmth, redness, and tenderness.
  • Close examination of the toes, toenails, underside of the foot, and the ankle will usually be part of the evaluation.
  • Sometimes X-ray testing or other imaging tests, such as MRI scanning, are used to make a diagnosis of foot pain.

What Is the Treatment for Foot Pain?

A doctor can develop a treatment plan that is best suited for each patient. Untreated, gout can become chronic and damage joints to a point where surgery is inevitable.

The treatment of foot pain depends on the precise cause. For example, gout can require medication or cortisone injection, while a fracture can require immobilization with casting. Surgery is the final option. 

What Home Remedies Treat and Relieve Foot Pain?

Home remedies for common foot pain include the following:

What Is the Recovery Time for Foot Pain?

The prognosis of foot pain depends on the cause of the pain. Fractures heal after four to six weeks with immobilization and resting.

Can You Prevent Foot Pain?

Foot pain can be prevented by avoiding injury or trauma to the foot. All high heels boost the risk of an ankle sprain. Look for a wide wedge or platform shoe that is nearly parallel with the ground.

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Common Causes of Foot Pain Slideshow

Wondering what's causing your foot pain?

See pictures of common causes of foot pain. Plus, learn about treatments and home remedies.

Reviewed on 3/16/2022
Firestein, G.S. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology, Ninth Edition. China: Elsevier Saunders, 2012.