Foot pain

Medical quality assurance by Dr. Albrecht Nonnenmacher, MD at December 10, 2015
StartSymptomsFoot pain

Foot pain can be a nuisance for anyone, from athletes to teachers, nurses, and students. Whether it's a strong excruciating pain without any evident reason or has been caused by a sports injury or accident, learning how and when to take care of it is a must. Foot pain can be serious if left untreated and understanding when to see a doctor and seek treatment can save a person from devastating consequences and even life-threatening problems down the road.


Definition & Facts

Learning where the pain stems from, what the main cause is, how to avoid further damage, where to find treatment, and which treatment is the right one for the injury or illness can provide a person struggling from foot pain with major relief. As a vitally important and highly used part of the body, foot pain should not be ignored. When it comes to foot health, close attention should be paid to minor to severe pain.

Foot pain is when a person has difficulty walking or feels a strong ache in their ankle, toes, or heels. Foot pain can at times be a sign of pain in another area of the body or can be evidence of a long-term illness. Foot pain can be debilitating due to it being a key part of the body's mobility and function and if left untreated or ignored may be cause for concern. From painful swelling all over to heel aches and arch pain, pain can be present in different areas of the foot.


Foot injuries and aches and pains can be caused by a number of reasons. From sports related accidents to spinal injuries to arthritis and diabetes, the causes of foot pain are multiple. While some reasons can be avoided by using proper shoes or playing it safe, some illnesses bring foot pain in their wake.

Long-term illnesses such as diabetes or arthritis can require a patient to pay closer attention to their health than others who may have been injured through sports or accidents. Heel pain can often be caused by a condition known as plantar fasciitis.

Bunions, flat feet, sprains, and stress fractures can be mildly painful and caused by shoes that are too small, genetics, or being on one's feet all day. These kinds of feet ailments may require medical attention at times, but are generally less worrisome. With that being said, whatever the cause is for foot pain, home remedies or medical attention are necessary.

When to see a doctor

While not all foot pain requires a visit to a doctor, a person struggling with foot pain should pay attention to tell-tale signs of a more serious condition. Intense swelling, excruciating pain, an inability to walk, discoloration and bruising are all valid reasons to visit a doctor. A minor injury can be taken care of at home, but any time there is strong pain, numbness, or tingling, a doctor can provide necessary treatment or therapy. While some foot pain can be remedied at home, when in doubt, a check-up can not only save money, but lives.

For diabetics, any abnormal bruises or apparent injuries without the presence of pain should be checked immediately. Due to nerve damage, diabetics may not feel a more serious injury or foot illness which could lead to amputation if left unchecked.

Treatment & Therapy

Treatment and therapy for foot pain are often dependent on what the root cause is. From arthritis to diabetes, there are a variety of treatments available for those who suffer from debilitating foot injuries or pains. If the foot pain is caused by a major injury such as a broken ankle, fractured bone, or tendon trauma, surgery may be necessary to fix the problem and speed along the healing process. If arthritis is the reason for painful feet, physical therapy or painkillers may be all that is needed for pain relief.

Foot problems caused by diabetes may require changes in diet and dietary supplements, as well as physical therapy. Foot pain while dealing with diabetes requires close monitoring due to neuropathy. If foot pain is caused by poor circulation, an active lifestyle and weight loss can improve circulation and provide relief.

Eating well and taking the proper supplements is key in maintaining healthy feet and circulation. It can also ensure that those with diabetes, arthritis, or other long-term illnesses are providing their bodies with the necessary nutrition to stay healthy.

Flat feet pain can be remedied through the help of foot arch supports that will provide relief for pain associated with the lack of foot arches. Bunions may require surgery if unsightly or highly painful, although relief is usually found with insoles or bunion pads. Treatment for heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis can start with simple steps such as changing the shoes a person uses to physical therapy and stretching.

Prevention & Prophylaxis

Serious foot problems and pain can be prevented with cautionary measures. From eating well and taking the proper supplements as a diabetic with foot pain to foot elevation for those with poor circulation and therapy or surgery for minor athletic injuries, prophylaxis and prevention of further spread of disease or worsening conditions is important in maintaining healthy feet.

A foot injury from sports, for example, if left unattended can turn into a more serious problem. A way to prevent a potentially debilitating disability is to take care of the minor injury by seeing a doctor before it becomes more serious or worsened by further injury.

A diabetic who notices a bruise on their foot may decide to visit a doctor to ensure that the cause is minor. Prevention and prophylaxis for foot pain is about being safe instead of sorry. Bunions are often caused by using narrow-toed shoes and can be avoided by wearing shoes that fit well and that are comfortable.

Most foot injuries and ailments could be avoided and prevented by using comfortable and proper shoes, taking care of one's overall health, and being mindful of abnormal pain in the feet area.

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