Pain or discomfort can be felt anywhere in the foot, including the heel, toes, arch, instep, sole, or ankles.

Poorly fitting shoes can cause foot pain. Problems may include:

  • Bunions: A bump at the base of the big toe, which can become inflamed. Bunions often develop over time from wearing narrow-toed shoes.
  • Calluses and corns: Thickened skin from rubbing or pressure. Calluses are on the balls of the feet or heels. Corns appear on the top of your toes.
  • Hammer toes: Toes that curl downward into a claw-like position.
  • Fallen arches: Also called flat feet.
  • Plantar warts: Sores on the soles of your feet due to pressure.

Other common causes of foot pain include:

  • Arthritis
  • Bone spur
  • Broken bones
  • Bursitis of the heel
  • Gout- common in the big toe, which becomes red, swollen, and very tender
  • Morton’s neuromas, a thickening of nerve tissue between the toes
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Sprains
  • Stress fracture
  • Tendinitis

Aging and being overweight also increase your chances of having foot problems.

Home Care
The following steps may help relieve your foot pain:

  • Apply ice to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Raise your painful foot as much as possible.
  • Reduce your activity until you feel better.
  • Wear foot pads to prevent rubbing and irritation.
  • Use an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. (Talk to your doctor first if you have a history of ulcer or liver problems.)

Other home care steps depend on what is causing your foot pain.

  • For plantar warts, try an over-the-counter wart removal preparation.
  • For calluses, soak in warm water and then rub them down with a pumice stone. Do NOT cut or burn corns or calluses.
  • For foot pain caused by a stress fracture, an extended rest period is often necessary. Crutches may be used for a week or so to take the pressure off, if your foot is particularly painful.
  • For foot pain due to plantar fasciitis, shoe inserts and stretches may help.

When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your doctor if:

  • You have sudden, severe foot pain
  • Your foot pain began following an injury, especially if your foot is bleeding or bruising, or you cannot put weight on it
  • You have redness or swelling of the joint, an open sore or ulcer on your foot, or a fever
  • You have pain in your foot and have diabetes or a disease that affects blood flow
  • Your foot does not feel better after using at-home treatments for 1-2 weeks

What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your doctor will perform a physical examination, paying particular attention to your feet, legs, and back, your posture, and how you walk.
Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and medical history, such as:

  • Do you have pain in one or both feet?
  • What part of the foot hurts?
  • Does the pain move from joint to joint, or does it always occur in the same place?
  • Did the pain begin suddenly or slowly?
  • How long have you had the pain?
  • Is it worse at night or when you first wake up in the morning?
  • Is it getting better?
  • Does anything make your pain feel better or worse?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • Do you have numbness in your toes?

X-rays may be done to help your doctor diagnose the cause of your foot pain.
Treatment depends on the exact cause of the foot pain. Treatment may include:

  • A cast, if you broke a bone
  • Removal of plantar warts, corns, or calluses by a foot specialist
  • Orthotics, or shoe inserts
  • Physical therapy to relieve tight or overused muscles
  • Foot surgery

The following steps can prevent foot problems and foot pain:

  • Wear comfortable, properly fitting shoes, with good arch support and cushioning.
  • Wear shoes with plenty of room around the ball of your foot and toe.
  • Avoid narrow-toed shoes and high heels.
  • Wear sneakers as often as possible, especially when walking.
  • Replace running shoes frequently.
  • Warm up and cool down when exercising. Always stretch first.
  • Increase your amount of exercise slowly over time to avoid putting excessive strain on your feet.
  • Lose weight if you need to.
  • Learn exercises to strengthen your feet and avoid pain. This can help flat feet and other potential foot problems.