About Foot Pain: Causes , Treatment & Prevention

The foot is one of the most complex parts of the body. It is made up of 26 bones connected by many joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The foot is susceptible to many stresses. Foot problems can cause pain, inflammation, or injury. These problems can result in limited movement and mobility.

What are the different types of foot problems?

Foot pain is often caused by improper foot function. Poorly fitting shoes can worsen and, in some cases, cause foot problems. Shoes that fit properly and give good support can prevent irritation to the foot joints and skin. There are many types of foot problems that affect the heels, toes, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and joints of the foot.

The symptoms of foot problems may look like other medical conditions and problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

Causes of foot pain

Injury, overuse or conditions causing inflammation involving any of the bones, ligaments or tendons in the foot can cause foot pain. Arthritis is a common cause of foot pain. Injury to the nerves of the feet may result in intense burning pain, numbness or tingling (peripheral neuropathy). Foot pain can occur due to certain lifestyle choices or a medical condition. Common causes include:

Common medical issues

Various medical issues are closely associated with foot pain.

Your feet are especially susceptible to the pain that occurs due to arthritis. There are 33 joints in the foot, and arthritis can affect any of them.

Diabetes mellitus can also cause complications and several disorders of the feet. People with diabetes are more prone to:

  • foot ulcers or sores
  • nerve damage in the feet
  • clogged or hardened arteries in the legs and feet

You’re also more at risk for having foot pain if you:

  • have overweight or obesity
  • are pregnant
  • have a foot injury such as a sprain, fracture, or tendinitis

Other potential causes of foot pain include:

  • corns
  • calluses
  • bunions
  • warts
  • ingrown toenails
  • medications that cause swelling of the feet
  • fallen arches
  • plantar fasciitis
  • gout, especially affecting the great toe near the ball of the foot

How to ease foot pain at home

Your at-home treatment options will vary depending on the pain you’re experiencing and its cause. However, following these tips may help relieve your discomfort:

  • Apply ice to the affected area.
  • Take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever.
  • Use foot pads to prevent rubbing on the affected area.
  • Elevate the foot that’s causing you to have pain.
  • Rest your foot as much as
    possible.

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When to see your doctor

Many people who regularly experience foot pain are aware of what triggers it, and they know the best way to manage their pain. However, you should see a doctor as soon as possible in the following situations:

  • You have a fever in addition to foot pain.
  • You have a medical condition that interferes with blood flow, and you experience foot pain.
  • The area that’s causing you pain has an open wound.
  • The area that’s causing you pain is red or has other symptoms of inflammation.
  • Your pain came on suddenly and is severe.
  • Your foot pain is due to a recent injury.

How to treat foot pain

The treatment for your condition depends on the cause. For some people, something as simple as shoe inserts can provide a great deal of relief. They’re available over the counter or by prescription. Other people may need:
  • a cast
  • wart removal
  • surgery
  • physical therapy

How to prevent chronic foot pain

Follow these tips to help prevent ongoing foot pain:

  • Choose comfortable, roomy, and well-cushioned shoes.
  • Avoid shoes with high heels and narrow toe areas.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Stretch before engaging in vigorous exercise.
  • Practice good foot hygiene.
  • Always wear footwear when you’re outdoors to protect your feet.

Although foot pain is common, it’s not a normal part of life. You should seek medical help if you have foot pain that hasn’t resolved after a week or two of at-home treatment.

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