Understanding Foot Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

June 18, 2024

Foot Pain is Tough!

Foot pain can significantly impact your daily life, limiting your mobility and preventing you from doing the things you love. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatments of foot pain is important so you can find relief and maintain an active lifestyle. Let's explore common conditions causing foot pain and provide insights into managing and preventing these issues.

The Anatomy of the Foot

The foot is a complex structure comprising 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These components work together to support your body weight, provide balance, and allow for a range of movements. The major bones in the foot include:

anatomy of human foot structure for foot pain discussion
  • Phalanges: The bones in your toes.
  • Metatarsals: The five long bones in the middle of the foot.
  • Tarsals: A group of seven bones, including the calcaneus (heel bone) and talus that form the back part of the foot.
  • Arch: Formed by the metatarsal and tarsal bones, supported by ligaments and tendons.

Common Conditions Causing Foot Pain

Morton's Neuroma

Morton's neuroma is a thickening of the tissue around a nerve leading to the toes.

Symptoms: Sharp, burning pain in the ball of the foot, often between the third and fourth toes. Tingling or numbness in the toes may also occur.

Causes: Repetitive stress, high heels, tight shoes, and abnormal foot mechanics.

Treatment: Rest, ice, shoe modifications, orthotics, corticosteroid injections, and in severe cases, surgery.

Pain on Top of the Foot

If the top of your foot hurts, this pain can result from various issues, including stress fractures and extensor tendinitis.

  • Symptoms: Pain and swelling on the top of the foot, difficulty walking or wearing shoes.
  • Causes: Overuse, improper footwear, injuries, and inflammation.
  • Treatment: Rest, ice, elevation, proper footwear, and anti-inflammatory medications.

Gout in Foot

Gout is a form of arthritis that is caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints, and for some, it can cause significant foot pain.

  • Symptoms: Sudden, intense pain, redness, and swelling in the affected joint, often the big toe.
  • Causes: High levels of uric acid in the blood, diet, genetics, and certain medical conditions.
  • Treatment: Medications to reduce uric acid levels, anti-inflammatory drugs, dietary changes, and increased fluid intake.

Bone Spurs in Foot

These are bony growths that develop on the bones of the foot, often where bones meet.

  • Symptoms: Pain, inflammation, and difficulty walking, particularly when spurs press on nerves or other tissues.
  • Causes: Overuse, arthritis, and improper footwear.
  • Treatment: Proper footwear, orthotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and, if necessary, surgery.

Flat Feet Problems

Flat feet, or fallen arches, occur when the arches of the feet collapse, leading to the entire foot touching the ground.

  • Symptoms: Pain and fatigue in the feet and lower legs, particularly after prolonged standing or activity.
  • Causes: Genetic predisposition, injury, aging, and conditions such as arthritis.
  • Treatment: Supportive shoes, orthotics, stretching exercises, and physical therapy.

Corn in Toe of Foot

Corns are thickened skin areas caused by pressure or friction and can cause foot pain.

Symptoms: Hardened, raised bumps surrounded by inflamed skin, often painful.

Causes: Ill-fitting shoes, abnormal gait, or other foot deformities.

Treatment: Comfortable footwear, protective pads, moisturizing lotions, and, if needed, trimming by a healthcare professional.


This condition causes pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot.

  • Symptoms: Sharp, aching, or burning pain in the ball of the foot, worsened by standing, running, or walking.
  • Causes: High-impact activities, ill-fitting shoes, excess weight, and foot deformities.
  • Treatment: Rest, ice, proper footwear, orthotics, and, in some cases, physical therapy.

Burning Pain in Arch of Foot

Burning pain in the arch of the foot is often linked to nerve issues or overuse injuries.

  • Symptoms: Burning sensation in the arch, which can worsen with activity.
  • Causes: Nerve entrapment, plantar fasciitis, overuse, and improper footwear.
  • Treatment: Rest, ice, orthotics, proper footwear, and physical therapy.

Tendonitis Foot

Inflammation of the tendons in the foot, commonly affecting the Achilles tendon.

  • Symptoms: Pain, swelling, and stiffness in the affected tendon, worsened by activity.
  • Causes: Overuse, improper footwear, sudden increase in activity, and foot deformities.
  • Treatment: Rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and in severe cases, surgery.
woman massaging her foot with her hands because of foot pain

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Plantar Fasciitis and the Types of Foot Pain it Can Cause

plantar fasciitis foot pain

Inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue running across the bottom of the foot. There are many different types of foot pain that can be caused by this condition.

  • Symptoms: Stabbing heel pain, particularly noticeable in the morning or after long periods of rest.
  • Causes: Overuse, flat feet, high arches, obesity, and improper footwear.
  • Treatment: Stretching exercises, physical therapy, orthotics, night splints, anti-inflammatory medications, and corticosteroid injections.

Here are some additional areas of foot pain that may be caused by Plantar Fasciitis:

Heel Pain

If your heel hurts, this pain can stem from various conditions, with plantar fasciitis being the most common.

  • Symptoms: Pain in the heel, especially when first standing up in the morning.
  • Causes: Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, heel spurs, and stress fractures.
  • Treatment: Similar to plantar fasciitis treatments, depending on the specific cause.

Bottom of Feet Hurting

Pain in the bottom of the feet can be due to various factors, including plantar fasciitis.

  • Symptoms: Pain in the arch or ball of the foot, especially after prolonged standing or activity.
  • Causes: Overuse, improper footwear, high-impact activities, and foot deformities.
  • Treatment: Rest, ice, proper footwear, orthotics, and stretching exercises.

Painful Soles of Feet

Painful soles of the feet can result from various conditions, including plantar fasciitis and nerve problems.

  • Symptoms: Pain and discomfort in the soles, often worsened by walking or standing.
  • Causes: Overuse, improper footwear, high-impact activities, and medical conditions like diabetes.
  • Treatment: Rest, ice, proper footwear, orthotics, and addressing underlying medical issues.

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Don't Suffer From Debilitating Foot Pain

Foot pain can be debilitating, but it doesn’t have to control your life. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or conditions, it's time to take action. Consult with an ONJ foot specialist to receive a thorough diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. Don’t let foot pain keep you from enjoying your life. Schedule an appointment with us today and step towards a pain-free future!