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Suffering from foot pain is very common and there are many causes. Below is information about some of the different types of foot pain, how to diagnose them and treat them.

What causes foot pain?
There are many causes of foot pain. The foot consists of ligaments, muscles, bones, tendons, nerves, skin, and blood vessels. Any of these can be the reason behind your foot pain. The cause of foot pain can be diagnosed by where about the pain is in the foot.

Heel pain

The most common cause of heel pain is from plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is when a group of hard tissue (plantar fascia) which links the heel bone to the toes becomes swollen, irritated or tender. The most common sign for plantar fasciitis is when heel pain is at its worse when you get up in the morning. You may also experience arch pain as a symptom.

You can treat plantar fasciitis by:

  • Resting your feet
  • Stretching the foot and heel muscles
  • Taking painkillers for relief
  • Wearing shoes with adequate arch support and with a cushioned sole

There are many other treatments available for plantar fasciitis.

When the bone at the bottom of the heel develops an unusual growth, it is known as a heel spur. A heel spur is usually caused by wearing the wrong kind of shoes, an abnormal gait, carrying out certain physical activities or from the way you walk and even your posture. Heel spurs may be the reason you suffer from foot pain whilst standing or walking. As many as one in 10 people suffer from heel spurs but only one in 20 of them will suffer from foot pain. People who suffer from plantar fasciitis may also suffer from heel spurs. Foot pain from heel spurs is more likely in those who have high arches or flat feet.

You can treat heel spurs by:

  • Lots of rest
  • Taking painkillers for relief
  • Wearing shoes that fit your feet well
  • Wearing shoes that have adequate shock absorbing soles
  • Using custom made orthotics in the shoe
  • Using a cut-out heel pad
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery (which is rare)

A painful bruise on the ball of the foot is called a stone bruise. This happens when you step on a hard object or are hurt from an impact. This bruise is known to feel like walking on pebbles with consistent pain.


The calcaneus also known as fracture of the heel bone is generally the foot bone which is often fractured. A big impact to the heel from a car accident or falling from somewhere high is what usually causes this kind of fracture. The fracture can range from a crack in the bone to the bone being shattered and crushed. The main symptoms for a fracture of the heel bone are swelling, bruising, heel pain and struggling to walk.

You can treat a calcaneus fracture by:

  • Using painkillers
  • Resting and not putting weight on the foot and using crutches when moving around
  • Using lots of padding on the heel
  • Using a splint or a cast to guard the heel bone
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery

Ball of the foot pain
 
Swelling and pain in the ball of the foot is called metatarsalgia. Wearing shoes that do not fit properly or participating in vigorous and energetic activities such as running, jogging or jumping are the common causes. Sometimes also called a stone bruise.

You can treat metatarsalgia by:

  • Using painkillers
  • Using ice and resting the foot
  • Wearing comfortable shoes
  • Using orthotic inserts in the shoes to relieve pressure

A Morton’s neuroma is when the tissue which surrounds the nerve between the bases of the toes (often between the third and fourth toes) begins to thicken. Typical symptoms are numbness, tingling and foot pain on the ball of the foot. This condition is more common in women from wearing ill-fitting shoes or high heels.
You can treat a Morton’s neuroma by:

  • Using painkillers
  • Staying away from high heeled shoes, especially shoes that are tight
  • The use of steroid injections where the foot pain is
  • Using shoe orthotics to lessen the pressure on the nerve
  • Steroid or other injections into the area of foot pain
  • Surgery (sometimes)

Sesamoiditis is when tendons around the big toe are damaged and irritated.

You can treat sesamoiditis by:

  • Lots of rest
  • Using ice compressions
  • Wearing shoes with small heels
  • The use of steroid injections
  • Restraining the joint by taping it
  • Using a foot pad under the toe when wearing shoes

Another common cause of pain in the ball of the foot is a verruca which is caused due to the human papiloma virus and can cause a considerbale amount of pain. Treatment is essential please see www.birminghamverrucaclinic.co.uk

 

Arch pain
Plantar fasciitis is the main cause of arch pain. It can affect the arch, heel or even both. The treatment for plantar fasciitis is the same, irrespective of where the pain in the foot is. A reoccurring plantar fasciitis can be treated by a local anesthetic, combined with a steroid injection may help also orthotics such as the dr foot pro insoles can be extremely effective for this condition.

Flat feet or fallen arches arise when the arches under the foot smoothen out. They usually flatten from walking or standing for long periods of time. Fallen arches can cause foot pain as well as other foot problems.

You can treat flat feet by:

  • Resting
  • Using ice compressions
  • Using a walking stick for support
  • Using orthotics to support the arches of the feet
  • Surgery (rarely)

Toe pain
Gout and arthritis can cause pain in the toes. Gout is an inflammatory condition where every so often crystals are deposited into the joints, thus causing discomfort, throbbing and puffiness. Often it is the big toe which is affected by gout.

You can treat gout by:

  • Resting
  • Taking medication and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Taking painkillers to relieve pain
  • Limit intake of foods which flare up gout attacks

A bony prominence alongside the edge of the foot, next to the bottom of the big toe is called a bunion (hallux valgus). Bunions can arise in anyone but most often it is women who suffer from them from wearing tight shoes. Those who suffer from bunions can also suffer from hammer toes.

You can treat bunions by:

  • Wearing shoes that fit well
  • Wearing the right orthotics for your feet
  • Consider having surgery

When the joint in the toe is bent it is called a hammer toe, it looks like a hammer. A common cause for this is a muscle tendon imbalance, this leads to the toe bending. Wearing shoes that are too tight for you can cause hammer toes.
When the joint at the end of a toe is incapable of straightening, making it point up or down is known as a claw toe. This is usually the consequence of nerve damage from diseases such as alcoholism and diabetes which weaken the muscles in the foot. If proper footwear is not used to support the claw toe then other foot conditions may arise.

You can treat a hammer toe and claw toe by:

  • Using inserts in your shoe
  • Using suitable orthotics
  • Doing stretching exercises
  • Wearing proper fitted shoes
  • Surgery

An ingrown toenail is when skin on the sides of the toenail grows over the nail. Ingrown toenails can be very painful and tender, often leading to infections.

You can treat ingrown toenails by:

  • Putting a piece of gauze between the skin and the nail once a day
  • Soaking the foot in warm water at least four times a day

If these do not help, then seek further advice from a podiatrist.

Pain at the bottom of the big toe from carrying out physical activities is known as the turf toe. Turf toe is an injury caused by overuse. It is usually by overextending the big toe causing a strain.
A toe fracture can happen in any toe. In the case of a minor fracture, using ice, lots of rest and taking painkillers may be all you need. If a fracture is serious then your foot may need surgery and to be immobilized by the use of a cast. If you think you have a fracture you should get it checked out by a doctor.
A toe sprain may happen when banging the toe with force causing damage to the soft tissues or tendon. If a fracture isn’t caused from banging the toe then the swelling or pain from the toe sprain will lessen within a few days.
A stiff big toe also known as hallux rigidus is a progressive type of arthritis found at the bottom of the big toe. Some of the symptoms for this condition are stiffness and pain of the joint, which deteriorates over time.

You can treat hallus rigidus by:

  • Taking painkillers for relief
  • Carrying out stretching exercises
  • Surgery in some circumstances

Corns are when hard skin builds up on areas of the foot where there is pressure or friction causing irritation.
A callus is when skin builds up on a bigger area of the foot from pressure and friction. Corns and calluses usually form from shoes that do not fit properly.
You can treat corns and calluses by:

  • Wearing shoes that fit properly
  • Soaking the foot in warm water and using a pumice stone on the hard skin

A sesamoid fracture is a fracture of small bones (sesamoids) that are pushed into the tendons that join to the big toe. The main symptom of this kind of fracture is pain around and in the big toe.
You can treat a sesamoid fracture by:

  • Lots of rest
  • Keeping the foot elevated
  • Using painkillers for pain relief
  • Using foot pads to help relieve pressure
  • Immobilizing the toe and foot

A serious sesamoid fracture may need surgery.

Pain on the outside of the foot
The most commonly fractured bone in the foot is the fifth metatarsal bone which is located on the outside edge of the foot. Some symptoms after an injury are bruising, puffiness and throbbing.
Treat a foot fracture by:

  • Seeking medical attention (x-rays etc.)
  • Taking painkillers for pain relief
  • Lots of rest
  • Use ice compressions
  • Keeping the foot elevated
  • Immobilizing the foot or toe
  • Surgery (if needed)

Foot pain
Nerve damage or neuropathy in the feet is generally caused by diabetes. The kind of foot pain that may be experienced might be burning or a stinging sensation. For people who suffer from neuropathy, foot pain can be anywhere in the foot. To treat neuropathy, the core of the problem must be treated first, in this case the diabetes. Foot pain can be reduced by certain medications that work on the nerves.
Trauma of the foot can be anything from repeated damage to the foot from wearing shoes that do not fit properly to a major crush injury. Foot pain from trauma can happen anywhere on the foot.
Tendonitis is irritation and inflammation of the tendons, to the parts which attach the muscles to the bones in the foot. Tendons are found everywhere on the foot which cause pain in different places.

You can treat tendonitis by:

  • Lots of rest
  • Taking painkillers
  • Some steroid injections
  • Surgery (if necessary)

 

foot pain advice