Common Causes of Foot Pain

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Foot pain is something most people will experience over the course of their life. Whether it’s stubbing a toe, getting a cramp, or stepping on something sharp, you will probably have to endure some low-level foot pain from time to time. However, sometimes foot pain can be a sign of something more serious that needs attention.

Our feet are incredibly durable parts of our body, designed to bear the brunt of many strenuous activities like running, jumping, kicking, and more. Most of the time, our feet can handle the impact and the strain without too many problems — but they can get injured too.

If you are experiencing persistent pain in a certain part of your foot, it may be a sign that something is wrong and needs to be examined by a professional. At Applied Biomechanics, our team of orthotists and pedorthists are trained to identify the causes of different types of foot pain and treat them appropriately.

In this article, we will discuss some of the common causes of foot pain. Please remember that this information should not be used as a substitute for proper medical care. If you are experiencing serious foot pain, book an appointment with a professional.

When talking about the common causes of foot pain, the first question to ask is: where are you experiencing foot pain?

Toe Pain

Woman experiences toe pain, a common type of foot pain

Pain in the toes is a type of foot pain that can have a wide range of causes. Toe pain is often a secondary symptom of other conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, or hyper-pronation. Here are a few common examples:

  • Pain in the large toe joint often tied to osteoarthritis.
  • Peripheral neuropathy (numbness and pain in extremities) can be caused by diabetes.
  • Hallux valgus (bent big toe) is typically caused by hyper-pronation or ‘flat feet’.

Toe pain can also be caused by conditions like gout, hammertoe toe or mallet toe, or it may simply be the result of small shoes that cramp your toes.

As there are so many possible causes of toe pain, it is very important to consult with a professional to identify the true cause and ensure that you are following the correct treatment plan for your condition.

Ball of Foot Pain

The ball of your foot is the forward pad on the bottom of your foot, beneath your toe joints, also known as the ‘forefoot’.

When discussing ball of foot pain, the most common medical term that you’ll hear is metatarsalgia. Metatarsalgia refers to any pain in the general area of the metatarsal heads, which refers to the ball of the foot, primarily.

Metatarsalgia is used as a catch-all term for a number of different conditions, including:

  • Morton’s Neuroma (Nerve Inflammation)
  • Sesamoiditis (Joint Inflammation)
  • Capsulitis (Joint Inflammation)
  • Stress Fractures
  • Plantar Plate Tears
  • And more

Metatarsalgia may have a range of causes, depending on the specific condition. The most common causes are poorly fitting or improper footwear choices, improper loading or stress on the forefoot, and abnormal biomechanics (i.e. over-pronation, morton’s toe, etc.).

Another cause of ball of foot pain may be severe calluses, which can be created by pathomechanical foot types, poor alignment, and/or too much stress and friction on the ball of the foot.

Pain in Arch of Foot

One of the most common types of foot pain is the bottom part of the foot where the arch, or the sole of the foot, is located.

The bottom part of the foot contains the plantar fascia, a band of connective tissue that stretches from your heel to your toes. These tissues can be very sensitive and easily strained — approximately 1 in 10 people will experience this type of foot pain in their life.

The most common condition that causes pain in the arch or the sole of the foot is plantar fasciitis. This term refers to any condition that affects the plantar fascia and causes them to become strained or inflamed. It will often occur in conjunction with heel pain (see below).

Another biomechanical problem that frequently causes arch pain is a longitudinal arch collapse in the foot, leading to over-pronation or hyper-pronation. This condition is often referred to colloquially as having ‘flat feet’ and can be a major contributor towards plantar fasciitis.

Pain in Heel of Foot

Man experiences heel pain, a common type of foot pain

If you are experiencing heel pain, this condition can present in different parts of the heel, as well as being tied to a range of conditions, including:

  • Plantar fasciitis: In addition to affecting the arch of the foot, plantar fasciitis can also affect the heel area, particularly the front of the heel, and cause inflammation there.
  • Calcaneal fat pads: The calcaneal fat pads are located in the middle of the heel and are designed to provide cushioning for your heel. If this fat pad is bruised after a hard landing (from jumping or falling), then you may experience pain in the middle of the heel.
  • Achilles tendon: The Achilles tendon is the tissue that connects the calf muscles to your heel bone. This type of pain is localized in the rear of your heel or back of your calf and is often called ‘Achilles tendonitis’. It is an inflammation of the tendon that is usually the result of repetitive strain on that area.

Pain in the heel of the foot is another situation where it is crucial to consult with a professional. Incorrect treatment for heel pain can potentially lead to more problems, so you want to make sure your condition has been identified and is being treated properly.

Contact the team at Applied Biomechanics to learn more about treatment for different types of foot pain today.

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