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? (Continued)

Injuries such as ligament sprains, muscle strains, bruises, and fractures typically occur suddenly (acutely). Sprains, strains, bruises, and fractures may be the result of a single or combination of stresses to the foot. A sprain of the foot or ankle occurs when ligaments that hold the bones together are overstretched and their fibers tear or stretch too far. The looseness of ligaments in the joints of the foot may lead to chronic foot pain and deformity. Repeated overstressing of the same structure of the foot may cause stress fractures, tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and acute and chronic osteoarthritis. Stress fractures commonly occur in the metatarsal bones, the long bones of the foot, and can occur in the tarsal or rear foot bones, as well.

The muscles and fascia of the foot can be strained by overstretching, overuse, or overloading. Achilles tendonitis is a common injury of the tendon that attaches at the back of the heel. Plantar fasciitis (the most common cause of heel pain) is a result of microtrauma strain to the large ligament called the plantar fascia. Tendon pain and swelling from repetitive abnormal strain leads to "posterior tibial tendon dysfunction" and peroneal tendonopathies and can lead to tears in the tendons.

Injury to the bones and joints of the foot can be caused by a single blow or twist to the foot or also by repetitive trauma that can result in a stress fracture. A blunt-force injury such as someone stepping on your foot may result not only in a bruise (contusion) injury but also damage to the muscles and ligaments of the foot. Direct blows to the foot can cause bruising, breaking of the skin, or even fracturing of bones. Metatarsalgia is from the repetitive irritation of the joints of the ball of the foot. The term "stone bruise" is commonly referred to as a specific localized pain and tenderness of the ball of the foot. "Turf toe" is a common athletic injury in which the tendon under the joint at the base of the big toe is strained. Trauma to the toenail can cause pooling of blood under the nail and the temporary or permanent loss of a toenail. Repetitive trauma to the bones, muscles, and ligaments can result in extra bone growth known as spurs or exostoses.

Delayed treatment of many of foot pain can lead to complications, chronic long-term pain, disability, and arthritis of the affected foot. 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