Table of Contents
- Foot pain facts
- How is the foot designed?
- What causes foot pain?
- What causes foot pain? (Continued)
- What other symptoms and signs may accompany foot pain?
- When should someone seek medical treatment for foot pain?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose foot pain?
- What is the treatment for foot pain?
- What is the treatment for foot pain? (Continued)
- What follow-up care is needed after foot pain is treated?
- Is it possible to prevent foot pain?
Quick GuideCommon 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.
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.
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.
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