Foot Pain - Diagnosis

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

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How is foot pain diagnosed?

Proper evaluation and diagnosis of foot pain is essential in planning a treatment. A good general guideline is to compare the injured side to the uninjured side. Injury may present itself as distinguishable lump or gap felt at that location or a "crunchy" feeling on that spot caused by inflammation. The types, causes, and severity (sharp pain versus a dull ache) also are good indicators of the seriousness of the injury.

  • Four grades of pain
    • During activity
    • Before and after, and not affecting performance
    • Before, during, and after athletic activity, affecting performance
    • Pain so severe that performance is impossible

The doctor will ask you several questions to determine how the problem began. It can be helpful to tell the physician about how and when it started, how it affects you, when it bothers you, what you may or may not have done to make the pain better or worse. If necessary, a thorough physical exam may be conducted to evaluate for any other injuries.

  • Feet will be physically and visually examined at rest, with weight- and non-weight-bearing movement by the medical professional.
  • The foot and arch will be touched and manipulated and inspected to identify obvious deformities, tender spots, or any differences in the bones of the foot and arch.
  • The medical professional will examine how the muscles of your foot function. These tests may involve holding or moving your foot and ankle against resistance, you may also asked to stand, walk, or even run.
  • The nerves in the foot will be tested to make sure no injury has occurred there.
  • An X-ray, MRI, or bone scan of the foot and arch may be taken to determine if there are abnormalities of the bone and/or soft tissues.
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