10 Common Causes of Foot Pain (and What to Do About Them)

10 Common Causes of Foot Pain (and What to Do About Them)

Posted by Apex Foot Health on 27th Jun 2023

Did you know that around 4% of people have fallen arches? That's just one of the variety of disorders and issues that often affect your feet...aside from injuries alone. Causes of foot pain can come from a wide range of things, and your risk for certain types of foot pain can depend on your lifestyle, what you wear, your weight, and even genetics (in some cases).

Let's take a look at a few common causes of foot pain so that you know what to look out for if you have a concern for your foot health.

1. Diabetic Neuropathy

Closeup of how diabetic neuropathy is shown at bottom of foot

In cases of people with diabetes, blood sugar fluctuates frequently. As time goes on, high blood pressure episodes can lead to nerve damage, especially in the feet.

The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy are tingling and pain in the feet as well as numbness. Maintaining healthy blood sugar is one way to combat this ailment. 

Because the feet can often go numb it is important to check for cuts or injury regularly to avoid infection or further injury. Diabetic footwear can be worn to help alleviate pain from the condition as well.

2. Plantar Fasciitis

Image of foot bones and area affected by plantar fasciitis

The thick band that connects your heel bone to your toe is what is affected when you experience plantar fasciitis. It's often referred to as 'policeman's' toe,' but it can happen to anyone.

The bottom of your foot will have inflamed tissue running across it, and this type of heel pain is often described as a stabbing feeling near the heel area. The best forms of treatment are physical therapy, certain medications, and of course proper footwear.

3. Having Flat Feet

Closeup of person with flat feet

Flat feet can be something that comes with age. It can also be caused by injuries or even an illness. It doesn't have to happen to both feet either; only one foot can be affected in many cases.

The main cause is when your arches don't fully develop as a child. A chiropractor can help to address this, and it may be painful, but the fix may also be worth it. Physical therapy is also effective, and so is using arch supports .

4. Athlete's Foot

Closeup of foot with Athlete's Foot

The name can be confusing, but don't be fooled, anyone can be affected by Athlete's Foot. It's a contagious fungal infection that thrives in dark, moist places, like your shoes.

Typically, people will contract this infection from public showers or locker rooms. Symptoms include itchy, scaly, and red skin between the toes.

The good news is that avoiding Athlete's Foot is fairly easy. You'll want to focus on cleaning your feet thoroughly with soap and water, especially between the toes.

Let your feet breathe by wearing open-toed shoes or moisture-wicking shoes. It's also recommended that you don't share socks or shoes with anyone else.

5. Bunions

Closeup of feet with bunions

Bunions are another common foot condition that affects a lot of people. Typically they are hereditary, but if you're constantly where the wrong-sized shoe, they can form.

Bunions are bony bumps that form at the base of the big toe. They can make doing the simplest tasks, like walking, very painful. To prevent bunions, be sure to wear shoes that fit and are both supportive and comfortable.

6. Heel Spurs

Image of foot bones and area affected by heel spurs

Heel spurs occur when calcium builds up in the foot between the heel and arch. Often the growth is visible and tender to the touch. The pain can be sharp and stabbing, often making it difficult to walk or put pressure. 

This condition is more common as we age but can also be brought on by improperly fitting footwear, trauma, and athletics. Rest and icing can help reduce pain; however, more involved medical treatment is sometimes needed.

7. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Closeup of foot with bright red spot for pain from tarsal tunnel syndrome on ankle

You might have heard of the condition carpal tunnel in the past regarding wrist and arm pain. Tarsal tunnel (a passage in your ankle made up of bones and ligaments) is similar in that the tarsal nerve becomes compressed by tissue or bone. 

The symptoms of the condition are burning, tingling, and shooting pain felt on the inner foot. Anti-inflammatory medication is sometimes used for pain. Casts might be used to restrict movement in extreme cases.

8. Turf Toe

Turf toe is caused by a sprain at the base of the big toe. When the ligaments become torn from overextension severe pain occurs. With this condition, your mobility may become limited. Walking, running, and jumping can worsen the condition and make healing take longer. 

Anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce swelling and pain. After a few days, the pain should subside. However, if it doesn't, it could mean that there is a fracture.

9. Bone Spurs

A bone spur is a bony growth that develops at the edge of a bone, and the most common cause of a bone spur is damage that's caused by osteoarthritis. The stiffness and swelling that you experience with bone spurs can cause issues with the movement of your joints, and unfortunately, it can also press on your nerves and make pain management more difficult.

These painful calcium deposits often contribute to different causes of foot pain and can be fixed by simply getting rest, trying physical therapy, or even steroid shots. NSAIDS like ibuprofen, for example, can help with foot health to reduce pain and swelling when your feet hurt as well.

10. An Avulsion Fracture

When a bone fragment separates from the rest of the bone, this is called an avulsion fracture. These fractures can occur from playing sports or participating in vigorous exercises and can take anywhere from four to six weeks to heal but could still contribute to foot pain if not treated the right way.

Icing the fractured area and getting enough rest can help with healing. A lot of the time, these fractures don't require surgical interventions, which is a slight upside.

Relief From Causes of Foot Pain Starts Now

Causes of foot pain don't just go away on their own. The faster you react to consistent pain, the faster the healing process can start. Instead of resulting in pharmaceuticals and surgical options as a first-step solution, try changing up your footwear.

To be proactive and avoid foot pain, learn more with Apex...the one-stop for better foot health.