What Causes Foot Pain?
Foot pain can be caused by genetics, or it can be the result of an injury or disease. The location and severity of the pain, as well as the accompanying symptoms, are important to consider when seeking a pain-relieving solution.
Many people can find relief by wearing well-fitting shoes or by using orthotics. In some cases, though, help from a medical professional is highly recommended.
General Information About Foot Pain
Foot pain that is accompanied by fever, a general feeling of unwellness, redness or swelling should be evaluated by a physician, as these symptoms can indicate an infection or disease that requires prompt treatment. Most types of foot pain can be explained by a recent injury, but in some cases the foot may be inflamed as a result of a more serious condition. As with all health concerns, seek help from a health professional if the pain persists, is unexplained, or is severe enough to interfere with your normal activities.
Simple alterations can oftentimes relieve foot pain. For example, wearing shoes that fit properly, or wearing orthopedic shoes if recommended by a podiatrist, can help with pain caused by fallen arches and other common conditions. Treating skin conditions, such as athlete's foot, helps reduce the risk of developing a more serious, and more painful, problem. Many over-the-counter options, including foot pads, foot wraps and insoles, are available to relieve common foot pain as well.
Bruised, broken or sprained toes are a common cause of pain. Typically, this type of pain is caused by an accident and will only last a few days with rest. Wearing improperly sized shoes can also cause pain sometimes. Shoes that are too tight can cause blisters, ingrown toenails and hammertoes. Determine your shoe size by visiting a shoe store where sizing is offered, and have your feet measured annually to ensure you are wearing shoes that aren't too small.
More severe cases of toe pain may require medical treatment. For instance, gout is a condition that is caused by an excess of uric acid the body, and is often accompanied by redness or swelling in the affected joints. Gout is typically treated with prescription medications, and can occur anywhere in the foot, ankle or other joints of the body. Arthritis can also occur in any joint in the body, and is accompanied by redness, warmth and swelling.
Corns, a type of growth on the toes, are a fairly common for toe pain. To relieve pain caused by corns, apply over the counter medications designed to treat corns, or talk to your doctor if the pain is severe. Bunions are located along the outside edge of the big toe, and can be relieved by wearing properly fitting shoes and placing cushions between the bunion and the shoe. Surgery is also an option if the problem is severe.
Flat feet are the most common cause of arch pain. They can be caused by stress on the foot, or by old injuries that haven't healed properly. Wearing supportive shoes or insoles is typically recommended to relieve pain. Arch pain can also be caused by plantar fasciitis and overpronation. Overpronation occurs when the foot rolls too far inward when running or walking, and is typically corrected by wearing stability or motion control shoes.
Pain in the Top of the Foot
Common causes of pain in the top part of the foot include arthritis, stress/damage to the tendons, and abnormal bone growth. Tendon damage can occur as a result of overly tight calf muscles, or as a result of fallen arches. Wearing podiatrist-recommended orthotic footwear can sometimes help to relieve the pain as well. In some cases, a physician or podiatrist may need to x-ray the foot or perform other tests to determine the cause of your foot pain.
Treatments may include performing exercises designed to stretch the calf muscle, anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections and/or surgery. People with a chronic disease such as arthritis may be prescribed pain medications to relieve the pain.
Pain localized on the underside of the heel may be caused by plantar fasciitis, a condition that can also cause pain in the arches of the feet. Plantar fasciitis can be treated using a variety of methods. For instance, you should avoid walking barefoot, and your podiatrist may recommend applying ice to the area, rest, doing exercises to stretch the tendon in the heel, and/or taking anti-inflammatory medications. Some people with plantar fasciitis are advised to wear orthotics.
Heel pain can also be caused by stress fractures, nerve irritation, arthritis or tendinitis. Achilles tendinitis can cause pain on the bone located at the base of the heel, where the tendon is attached. In some cases, infections such as osteomyelitis, arthritis, and gout can also cause heel pain. These conditions are typically accompanied by redness, swelling and localized warmth around the painful area. Consult a medical professional for pain caused by infection, as medications and other therapies are often necessary to treat the underlying cause.
Pain in the Ball of the Foot
The ball of the foot, called the metatarsal region, is located directly under the toes on the bottom of the foot. Common causes of foot pains in the metatarsal region include a thinning of the padding on the bottom of the foot, hammertoes, flat feet, fallen arches, and genetic bone abnormalities. Wearing padded orthotics or insoles can relieve the pain caused by thinning pads, but some bone abnormalities require surgery. Wraps that align the affected toes properly may be used to treat hammertoes.