7 Types of Foot Pain and Why You Should Pay Attention to Them

by AZ Pain Doctors, on Nov 30, 2020 9:30:00 AM

Your feet each have 26 bones, 30 joints, and 7,000 nerve endings. That's a lot of important body parts packed into a small space.

When you walk, it puts constant pressure on your feet. Walking a mile at average speed is equal to 60 tons of stress. With that much strain, it's only a matter of time before you injure your foot.

77% of Americans experience at least 1 of the 7 types of foot pain. Most patients suffer a minor strain and the pain fades in 2-3 weeks. For some people, their foot pain never goes away. 

Take some time to research the common types of foot pain to see if you have a chronic condition. It'll help you discuss pain management plans with your doctor.

1. Intense Arch Pain

The posterior tibial tendon (PTT) runs from the calf to the arch of the foot. During intense workouts, the PTT and neighboring tendons endure too much stress.

Stressed tendons stretch and tear, leading to a condition called fallen arches. In extreme cases, fallen arches cause radiating pain in the legs and lower back.

For these types of foot pain patients, doctors may suggest corrective surgery. Sometimes doctors recommend less invasive measures like specialized shoes.

2. Achy Foot Joints

There are over 100 types of arthritis. The majority of them attack the fragile foot joints. The constant inflammation makes walking painful.

There is no single cure for the various forms of arthritis. Treatments focus on maintaining a low pain level and slowing the disease's progress. 

The three main types of arthritis that cause foot pain are:

  • Post-traumatic arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Don't put off seeking help for deep joint aches. Arthritis destroys the joints. Early intervention may save a patient's ability to walk.

3. Foot Stiffness That Lasts All Day

Stiffness in the foot is often associated with arthritis. But what if the patient doesn't have arthritis and the stiffness persists?

The problem could be a strained tendon. It's common in patients who don't wear supportive shoes during workouts. For younger male patients, a likely cause for foot stiffness is gout.

Gout is a buildup of uric acid in the patient's body. The acid turns into crystals that lodge in the patient's joints. The first sign of gout is often stiffness and swelling of the joints in the big toe.

4. Lingering Post-Surgery Foot Pain

Long-lasting nerve pain issues are the most common side-effect of foot surgery. With 7000 nerves in the foot, there is no way to avoid nerve damage during procedures.

The healing time for nerves depends on the amount of damage. Nerves need a long resting time to recover. After this rest period, nerves grow about 1 mm a day.

In 6 months, the damaged nerves should recover full sensory function. After a year, the nerves should finish healing.

A small percentage of patients never fully heal from surgery. They deal with nerve issues like neuromas for months or years after.

5. Pain Radiating From the Heel

Over 2 million people per year report suffering from intense heel pain. This pain most likely comes from irritation of the plantar fascia ligament. The ligament goes from the heel to the ball of the foot.

During workouts, the plantar fascia absorbs most of the impact. Workout shoes that don't support the foot's arch lead to ligament damage.

Minor irritation of the ligament hurts the most in the morning but fades after movement. Major injuries to the ligament cause intense pain near the heel. Doctors often recommend cortisone shots to treat plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis sometimes presents hand-in-hand with pain from heel spurs. Heel spurs are calcium deposits on the heel bones. The spur presses on the ligament, bruising it after a while.

6. Foot Pain With No Obvious Cause

When one part of the body is hurt, other parts adapt to make up for the loss of function. Doctors call this referred pain. If a patient's knee aches, the resulting limp puts extra stress on their feet and hips.

Referred pain in the feet is often a symptom of a much bigger problem. These conditions include:

  • Sciatic nerve dysfunction
  • Inflamed or torn knee ligament
  • Torn knee cartilage
  • Bursitis in the hip
  • Arthritis in the hips

Sometimes the problem causing your foot pain isn't related to any of these issues. Infections and certain toxins cause peripheral neuropathy. This is a system-wide nerve disorder that also makes the limbs numb and weak.

A related condition is a diabetic neuropathy. When a diabetic patient allows their blood sugar levels to rise, it damages the nerves.

Diabetic patients are prone to foot pain and foot-related injuries. At the first signs of nerve damage to the feet, a patient should seek treatment. Delaying treatment can lead to antibiotic-resistant infections.

7. Pain in the Ball of the Foot

The ball of the foot gets its shape from the ends of the metatarsal bones. These long bones support the entire arch of the foot.

Because the metatarsal bones handle so much pressure, it's easy to injure them. Pain radiating from the ball of the foot to the arch could be a lesser stress fracture. Sharp pinpoint pain in the same area could signal a full metatarsal fracture.

The tissue around the metatarsal bone ends bruise under too much stress. Metatarsalgia presents as a grinding pain in the ball of the foot. Patients often describe it as stepping on a pebble over and over again.

Exercising without supportive shoes can lead to metatarsalgia. The condition is also a symptom of other types of foot pain.

For example, heel pain from plantar fasciitis can lead to metatarsalgia. When the heel is injured, patients rely on other parts of their feet to walk.

Do You Have One of These Types of Foot Pain?

Ignoring your foot pain can lead to countless other health problems. You may even lose your ability to walk if certain conditions are neglected.

At AZ Pain Doctors, we see patients with many types of foot pain. Our goal is to fight pain at the source. Chronic foot pain should not run your quality of life. 

Find relief from your chronic foot pain by planning a trip to see a pain specialist. Do you live in the Phoenix, AZ area? Contact AZ Pain Doctors today to learn more about our services. 

Topics:types of foot pain