What is foot pain?

Pain in the foot can arise from a number of different causes. Foot pain may develop as a result of conditions affecting any of the structures in the foot, including the skin, nerves, muscles, joints, tendons, bones, ligaments, blood vessels, and connective tissue. Trauma or injury is a common cause of foot pain. Even everyday situations, such as overuse or poorly fitting shoes can lead to temporary, acute pain in the feet.

Foot pain can be described as sharp, stabbing, dull or throbbing. It can also feel like a tingling or burning sensation (paresthesia), which is common in conditions such as diabetes that can damage the peripheral nerves (peripheral neuropathy). Foot pain may be mild to severe in intensity and occur only at certain times of day or when you perform certain activities. Moving your foot or ankle may either worsen or relieve the pain. With severe pain related to traumatic injuries, it may be impossible to move the affected foot at all.

In some cases, foot pain is localized. Yet even when the pain is restricted to one foot (unilateral), it may occur only on the top of the foot (dorsum), the bottom of the foot (plantar surface), the heel, the ankle, or the toes. Plantar fasciitis is an example of a condition in which pain is felt primarily at the bottom of the heel.

Foot pain may be recent in origin (acute) or develop over time (chronic). In some situations, foot pain can occur as a result of chronic medical conditions you may have that affect your entire body, such as arthritis, vascular disease, or diabetes.

Although life-threatening complications of foot pain are rare, seek immediate medical care (call 911) for injuries that involve profuse bleeding or tissue damage. In rare cases, infections of the bone (osteomyelitis) or skin and soft tissues (cellulitis) of the foot can spread throughout the body, resulting in shock and organ failure. Another rare but potentially life-threatening cause of foot pain is cancer of the bones or soft tissues in the foot.

If your foot injury or condition is persistent, recurrent, or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with foot pain?

Foot pain may be accompanied by other symptoms, depending on its cause and any underlying diseases or conditions. Some conditions that frequently affect the feet, such as peripheral vascular disease or diabetic neuropathy, can cause symptoms in other body systems.

Foot symptoms that may occur... Read more about foot painsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes foot pain?

Injury or damage to any of the structures in the foot can cause foot pain. Diseases that affect the entire body, such as diabetes, arthritis, or vascular disease, are more complex processes that can lead to foot pain.

Traumatic causes of foot pain

A number of common injuries can cause foot pain ... Read more about foot paincauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles


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