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Foot pain diagnosis symptoms

foot pain

Foot pain is as diverse as the complicated structure of the feet. Each foot is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints and 20 muscles. More than 200 tendons and ligaments support the movement. Diagnoses and possible treatments depend on where, when, and how the pain occurs . This post will give you a guide how to diagnose your disease using your symptoms . .

What is foot pain?

Feet carry the entire body weight when standing and walking and are exposed to great loads. They are usually found in shoes that do not focus on the well-being of the foot. Pain often arises as a sign of overload . Blisters, corns, and other consequences of improper footwear also cause pain.

In addition, the feet are prone to injury. Struck toes, bruises or strains from twisting the ankle are some examples.

Pain in the foot manifests itself in different ways, depending on the cause:

  • piercing
  • burning
  • blunt

The complaints arise:

  • in the toes
  • in the front foot
  • in the midfoot
  • at the heel
  • throughout the foot

The pain trigger is often visible. This applies to ingrown toenails, blisters or corneal thickening.

If the causes are not recognizable and the pain persists, it makes sense to see a doctor . Pain in the foot can occur with every step and every movement. Occasionally they persist even at rest and represent a serious impairment.

Causes of foot pain

Foot pain is caused by:

  • injuries
  • foot deformities
  • inflammation
  • signs of wear
  • circulatory disorders
  • skin diseases
  • Diseases of the nervous system
  • tumors

Metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus or gout can also cause painful deformities and inflammation in the foot area.

foot deformities

Foot deformities can be congenital or develop over the course of life. Acquired deformities often have their causes in childhood. During childhood, the bones are not fully developed and very soft. If shoes are too small or too big, they have a decisive influence on foot growth. In adulthood, obesity, the wrong shoes and extreme stress contribute to malpositions.

Common foot deformities include:

  • splayfoot
  • flatfoot
  • clubfoot
  • equinus
  • crescent foot
  • hollow foot
  • hammer toes
  • claw toes
  • Ball of the big toe (Hallux valgus)
  • Tailor’s bunions (Digitus quintus varus) on the little toe

Typical foot injuries

Accidents during sport, in everyday life or on the road often result in the following foot injuries :

  • joint injuries
  • bone swelling
  • broken bones
  • sprains
  • tendon injuries
  • ligament injuries
  • muscle injuries

signs of wear

Signs of wear and tear as the cause of pain develop over the course of life. Extreme stress at work or sport and old age favor these manifestations:

  • Osteoarthritis (joint wear)
  • heel spur
  • osteoporosis (bone loss)


Inflammatory foot injuries are caused by overuse or in connection with other diseases. Widespread are:

  • Arthritis (joint inflammation)
  • periosteum inflammation
  • tendonitis
  • Rheumatic diseases
  • bursitis

Diagnosis symptoms related to foot pain

Pain in the foot itself is a symptom . The cause of the pain can be in the foot or in other muscles, tendons and bones. For example, inflammation of the sciatic nerve causes foot pain even though the nerve does not reach the foot. A herniated disc can cause the pain to radiate into the foot.

Other symptoms of pain include:

  • skin changes
  • Deformations in the area of ??the toes
  • Bulge on the heel like the heel spur
  • redness
  • overheat

The explanation of when and where the pain occurs provides the doctor with important information for the diagnosis. The following table shows some typical symptoms:

region of foot   Suddenly Under pressure At rest
forefoot broken toe

toe sprain

  • bursitis
  • hallux valgus
  • Osteoarthritis of the toe joints
  • hammer toes
  • claw toes
  • tailor bale
  • Bone necrosis (tissue death) of the metatarsophalangeal joints
  • Inflammatory arthrosis of the toe joints
  • Inflammatory tailor’s bunion
  • Bone necrosis of the metatarsophalangeal joints
  • gout
  • rheumatism
  • fatigue fracture
  • sprain
  • hallux valgus
  • Tendon and connective tissue inflammation
  • Osteoarthritis of the metatarsal joints
  • rheumatism
  • joint irritation
  • Calluses on the sole due to splayfoot
  • Calluses on the soles of the feet due to splayfoot
  • Inflammatory arthrosis of the metatarsal joints
  • rheumatism
  • Achilles tendon rupture
  • heel spur
  • None
  • flat foot
  • Tendon weakness in the posterior tibial muscle
  • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome (narrowing of the shin nerve)
  • None
  • corneal thickening
  • None
  • torn ligament
  • flat foot
  • tendonitis
  • bursitis
  • Osteoarthritis of the tarsal joints
  • Inflammatory arthrosis of the tarsal joints
  • nerve entrapment
entire foot
  • nerve entrapment
  • nerve injuries
  • flat foot
  • rheumatism
  • nerve entrapment
  • nerve injuries
  • Morton’s neuroma (swelling of the plantar nerve)
  • circulatory disorders
  • nerve entrapment
  • nerve injuries
  • disc prolapse
  • Spinal canal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal in the spine)
  • rheumatism


In the case of foot pain, the doctor first conducts a medical history interview with his patient. By looking at the foot and ankle, he gets more clues. In addition, he will look at the gait pattern. An initial diagnosis is often possible afterwards. The following examination methods are used for further clarification :

  • Computer-aided foot pressure measurement
  • Dynamic gait analysis on a treadmill
  • Laboratory test to rule out metabolic diseases
  • X-ray examination
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Treatment of foot pain

Therapy depends on the cause and diagnosis. Custom-made shoe inserts are suitable for correcting foot deformities . If foot pain is solely due to overuse, a short period of immobilization is usually sufficient to eliminate the pain. Ointments, bandages and bandages are recommended for this.

Other treatment methods are:

  • foot gymnastics
  • foot massages
  • foot baths
  • orthoses
  • electrotherapies
  • heat and cold treatment

Cortisone injections into the inflamed joint can be helpful to relieve inflammation .

Injuries and extreme foot deformities may require surgery . Common foot surgeries include:

  • Correction of hallux valgus
  • Corrections of claw and hammer toes
  • heel spur surgery
  • Surgical removal of nerve knots in the metatarsal area
  • Joint reflection to eliminate ligament and tendon injuries
  • Operations on the ankle
  • ligament tear surgeries

Questions and answers

Are there any special risk factors for foot pain?

People who are overweight tend to have foot pain when they are subjected to heavy loads such as hiking or standing for long periods of time. The body weight overloads the joints, tendons and muscles in the feet. Those who suffer from foot malpositions are also more likely to be affected by the symptom.

Can I prevent foot pain?

The prevention of foot pain goes hand in hand with protection against injuries and malpositions. Choosing the right footwear is important. Shoes have to fit perfectly. They are slightly longer than the foot and give the toes enough space to roll off. The right shoe size is just as important. At the same time, shoes must not be too big, as they will not provide sufficient support.

When should I go to the doctor for foot pain?

If foot pain occurs suddenly and is extremely severe, immediate medical attention is required. This is especially true if the pain was preceded by an accident. Persistent pain during exertion and at rest should be examined by a doctor after three days at the latest. If you have foot pain, you may need to take sick leave.

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