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Pain or discomfort can be felt anywhere in the foot. You may have painin 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
Foot deformity that you were born with
Shoes that fit poorly or do not have much cushioning
Too much walking or other sports activity
The following can cause foot pain:
- and -- common in the big toe, which becomes red, swollen, and very tender
- Broken bones
: 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 toes
- Plantar fasciitis
- Plantar warts: Sores on the soles of your feet due to pressure
- Stress fracture
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 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 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 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 1-2 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 bone
- 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
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 – 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.
- · 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.
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- Last reviewed on 1/17/2013
- C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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