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Foot Pain

Foot pain is a common complaint, and it can have many causes. Read on to learn more about different types of foot pain, diagnosis, and treatments.

 

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Causes of Foot Pain

Pain in the foot can be due to a problem in any part of the foot. Bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, fascia, toenail beds, nerves, blood vessels, or skin can be the source of foot pain. 

The cause of foot pain can be narrowed down by location and by considering some of the most common causes of foot pain.

Heel Pain

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. The plantar fascia, a band of tough tissue connecting the heel bone to the toes, becomes irritated or inflamed. Heel pain, worst in the morning when getting out of bed, is the most common symptom. Arch pain may also be present. 

Treatment for plantar fasciitis includes:

  • Rest
  • Calf and foot muscle stretches
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Shoes with good arch support and a cushioned sole 

Various other treatments for plantar fasciitis are available. 

Heel spurs are abnormal growths of bone on the bottom of the heel bone that may be caused by an abnormal gait, posture or walking, inappropriate shoes, or certain activities. Spurs may cause foot pain while walking or standing. Although one in 10 people has heel spurs, only one in 20 of these people will have foot pain. Heel spurs can occur in people with plantar fasciitis, but they do not cause plantar fasciitis. People with flat feet or high arches are more likely to have foot pain from heel spurs.

 

Treatment for heel spurs include: 

  • Cutout heel pad
  • Custom-made insert (orthotic) worn in the shoe
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Rest
  • Surgery (rarely)
  • Physical therapy

A stone bruise is a bruise of the fat pad of the heel. It can occur after stepping on a rock or other hard object. 

A fracture of the heel bone (calcaneus) is the most commonly fractured foot bone. It is most often caused by high impact to the heel -- for example, when  person has fallen from a height or been in a car accident. Injuries can range from a bone crack from a new vigorous exercise plan to a shattered bone from a high fall.  Heel pain, bruising, swelling, limping, or difficulty walking are the main symptoms. 

Calcaneus fracture treatment includes: 

  • Rest from weight bearing, often with crutches
  • Thorough padding of the heel
  • Splinting or casting to protect the heel bone
  • Pain relievers
  • Surgery
  • Physical therapy

 

Ball of Foot Pain

Metatarsalgia is pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot. Strenuous activity or ill-fitting shoes are the usual causes. Treatment for metatarsalgia includes: 

  • Pain relievers
  • Change to more comfortable footwear
  • Inserts for the shoes to relieve pressure on the ball of the foot 

WebMD Medical Reference

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