My Feet Hurt! How to Diagnose Foot Pain

woman with foot pain

Your friends warned you about calling on Dr. Google for medical advice. But your feet hurt!

Maybe you don’t have time for a non-internet doctor. Or you are hoping the pain will just go away.

There are times when you should see a doctor.

(And remember…the internet does not have a medical license!).

In the meantime, learn more about your foot pain.

This article will help you take a step in the right direction. Keep reading for tips to help diagnose and treat your foot pain!

What Causes Foot Pain?

Feet are complex. They are made up of tons of bones, tendon, muscles, nerves, soft tissues, and ligaments.

For example, your feet are supported by 26 bones and 33 joints. This leaves lots of ground for foot pain to cover.

Injury or overextending can cause your feet to hurt. These are the most common causes of foot pain.

Foot pain can be caused by infectious diseases and viruses, too. Examples of these are athlete’s foot and plantar warts.

Identifying Foot Pain

When your feet hurt, you must first ask yourself:

What part of my foot is hurting? Identifying the part of your foot that hurts will help with to diagnose your foot pain.

Arch Pain

The arch of your foot provides support to your feet. A few things can cause pain in your arches.

If your arches have fallen, you will likely feel pain. This is also known as having flat feet (when the souls of your feet touch the floor when you stand). There is less support of your body when your arches fall.

It is normal for arches to fall over time. Some people never develop arches. Arch pain can also be caused by injury to the arch area.

Plantar fasciitis can cause pain in the arch of the foot as well.

Heel Pain

Heel pain is caused by two primary conditions. One is heel spurs. The other is plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is caused when the fascia becomes inflamed. The fascia is a tough tissue connecting your heel bone to your toes.

This is caused by overuse and lack of stretching. It is more common in women. It can be seen in overweight individuals or people working on their feet for long hours.

Heel spurs are caused when calcium builds upon the bone due to repetitive strain. This eventually can cause a protrusion and then pain. These are common among athletes.

Heel spurs can also be caused by plantar fasciitis.

Ball of Foot Pain

There are a couple of painful outcomes that the ball of your foot can experience. Both can be caused by ill-fitting footwear.

Metatarsalgia is common in athletes. It refers to inflammation in the ball of the foot. Footwear that doesn’t fit correctly or is too tight can cause this inflammation.

Morton’s neuroma is another condition causing such inflammation. This is generally seen in women who wear high heels.

This pain is caused by a thickening of the tissue around the nerves. The site of pain is usually at the base of the third and fourth toes.

Toe Pain

Gout, a form of arthritis, can cause pain in the toes. It is usually the big toe that hurts the most.

Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid in the blood that creates sharp crystals in joint areas. Often there is severe pain and swelling in the toe. The pain can come and go in gout attacks.

Another type of pain in the toe is a form of tendonitis called sesamoiditis. The pain is from inflammation of the tendons that connect the bone to the muscle. This is usually seen in the big toe.

Corns and calluses can cause pain in the toe area. Often caused by ill-fitting footwear, these conditions show a buildup of thick skin. These are usually not as severe as other toe problems.

Ingrown toenails are another source of toe pain. Ingrown toenails occur when the toenail grows into the skin of the toe. These usually affect the big toe, but other toes can fall victim, too.

Ingrown toenails can be painful, causing swelling and irritation. People with diabetes (due to poor circulation) are prone to ingrown toenails.

Toe pain can also happen if you fracture a toe. Generally, just rest and home treatment are needed for toe fractures. Serious fractures may require surgery, though.

Other Foot Pain

Foot pain on the outer edge is often due to a broken foot bone. This is usually caused by an injury. Pain and swelling may indicate this.

Neuropathy is another type of foot pain. This is often seen in those with diabetes. Neuropathy results from nerve damage. Symptoms will include burning and numbness.

Tendonitis can cause pain in your feet. This is caused when the tendon that attaches to your bone (around a joint area) becomes inflamed.  It can be caused by a sudden injury or repetitive movement in a certain area.

Pain and itching in your feet may be caused by plantar warts or athlete’s foot.

Plantar warts are caused by a virus. They usually are not serious and will usually go away without treatment.

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection. This can cause pain and itching, usually between the toes. It can be treated with over-the-counter anti-fungal treatments.

What To Do When Your Feet Hurt?

The most severe foot pain should be addressed with a doctor. A doctor or podiatrist can help target the cause of your foot pain. You will receive more personalized treatment.

Also, there are times when you may need an X-ray or medical scan.

If you want home remedies to treat your feet, check out these helpful tips.

Invest in Better Shoes

Make it your mission to find the best shoes for your activity. Much of your foot pain and injury is a result of poorly-fitting shoes. Do research on the best shoes for your physical activity for more personalized recommendations.

For example, Barking Dog Shoes can help recommend the best types of shoes for your personal needs.

Take Care of Your Feet

Keep yourself healthy…this includes your tootsies! Get regular pedicures to keep your feet from building up calluses and corns. This will also help ingrown toenails.

Stretch regularly (and before and after workouts) to keep feet flexible and agile.

Get regular foot massages. Massage helps boost circulation and keeps all those muscles loose. It can also reduce foot pain when you have it.

Over-The-Counter Medication

Anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, can help with foot pain. You don’t want to rely on this, though. For best results, using medication management along with other treatments is key.

If pain persists or worsens, even with medication, a doctor may be necessary.

Apply Ice or Heat

To reduce pain, ice or heat may help.

If you have swelling and inflammation, ice will help reduce it. If you have tight muscles, heat will be the better choice.

Improve Your Posture

Often, it is poor alignment and posture that causes chronic foot pain.

Be more aware of your posture. Keeping your alignment straight, but not stiff will help improve posture and foot pain.

Medical Attention

As a reminder, we are not doctors. Even if you know your diagnosis, chronic and regular pain is not something you should live with.

You should seek medical attention if your foot pain is interfering with your regular activities. Your quality of life should not be suffering.

At the End of the Day

Everyone’s feet hurt at one time or another. The key is to recognize when those dogs are barking! Then, work on different techniques to keep ’em calm.

Keeping your feet healthy should be a part of your regular routine. If pain becomes too much, there’s always the doctor to help put you on the right path.

Here are more helpful tips to keep yourself in tip-top shape!