Foot Pain

  • Author:
    Philip A. Radovic, DPM, FACFAS

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideCommon Causes of Foot Pain

Common Causes of Foot Pain

What causes foot pain?

Foot pain may be caused by many different diseases, deformities, biomechanical conditions, improper footwear, or injuries.

Infectious disease, viruses, fungi, and bacteria can cause foot pain. Plantar warts on the bottom of the foot are caused by a virus and can cause irritation and pain. Athlete's foot, which is caused by a fungus, can lead to foot irritation and pain. A common cause of foot pain is an ingrown toenail. Ingrown toenails occur when the edges of the nail grow through or into the skin, resulting in pain and often leading to infection.

Many systemic diseases such as diabetes, lupus, gout, and rheumatoid arthritis can cause foot pain. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause painful inflammation in the joints of the foot.

Deformities, such as tarsal coalitions, calcaneal varus, calcaneal valgus, bunions, claw toes, mallet toes, hammertoes, and bone spurs, are common causes of foot pain.

Biomechanical abnormalities from muscle and tendon tightness or laxity, flatfeet, or high arched feet often lead to muscle imbalances, deformities and foot pain.

Trauma from an acute injury or from accumulative repetitive injury are very common causes of foot pain as well. Injuries to the skin and internal structures may also be caused by small repetitive traumas or pressures. Microtrauma injuries can be caused by running on uneven surfaces or surfaces that are too hard or too soft, or by wearing shoes that have poor force-absorption qualities, are not activity specific, or fit incorrectly.

Wearing shoes that are too tight or high heels can cause pain in the forefoot. Shoes that are tied too tightly can cause pain and bruising on the top of the foot. Improper, non-sport specific shoes for running or cycling can lead to foot pain with activities. Poorly fitting shoes in the short term can cause blisters, bruising, and be a source of athlete's foot. The long-term effects of poorly fitting shoes may be bunions, corns, calluses, irritation of nerves and joints, and misalignment of the toes. Morton's neuroma caused by thickening of tissue around a nerve between the toes can cause toe numbness and pain and may also be aggravated by poorly fitting shoes as can many foot deformities such as hammertoes, mallet toes, and bunions. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 1/8/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Arnheim, Daniel D., and William Prentice. Principles of Athletic Training. 10th ed. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2000.

Daniels, Jack. Daniels' Running Formula. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1998.



IMAGES:

1. MedicineNet

2. iStock

3. iStock/Getty Images/"Corns" by Marionette - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

3. iStock

4. iStock

5. iStock

6. Getty Images

7. iStock

8. iStock

9. iStock

10. iStock

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Foot Pain - Effective Treatments

    What treatments have been effective for your foot pain?

    Post View 33 Comments
  • Foot Pain - Cause

    What caused your foot pain?

    Post View 10 Comments
  • Foot Pain - Symptoms

    What other symptoms did you have with your foot pain?

    Post View 8 Comments
  • Foot Pain - Medical Treatment

    What type of doctor or specialist did you go to for your foot pain? Please share your experience.

    Post View 3 Comments
  • Foot Pain - Diagnosis

    Describe the exams and tests that you had to diagnose the source of your foot pain.

    Post View 3 Comments
  • Foot Pain - Prevention

    If you've previously suffered foot pain, what precautions would you make before starting a new exercise routine?

    Post

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors