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Foot pain, what is it?

Many people experience mild aches and pains in their feet from time to time. You can feel pain in any part of your foot, from the back of your heel to the tips of your toes, on top or underneath where it meets the floor.

There are a number of reasons for foot pain and, in most cases, it will go away on its own after rest. However, sometimes the pain may become persistent, or severe, and if it is, it is a good idea to see a GP.

If you’re struggling with foot pain, our doctors can help you find out the cause and recommend a suitable treatment.

Common causes of foot pain

The feet do a lot of work, from taking our weight and keeping us balanced, to acting as shock absorbers as we walk and run, so they can be more susceptible to injury compared to some other parts of the body.

Foot pain can affect people of all ages, and it is often caused by:

  • Overuse - if you are on your feet all day, or participate in a lot of sports, you may be more likely to experience foot pain.
  • Injury – including sprains or breaks.
  • Unsuitable footwear - shoes that do not fit correctly or do not support your feet properly can cause foot pain.
  • A medical condition - diabetes, arthritis and other conditions can affect the feet and lead to pain.
  • Blisters or corns.

Foot pain could, in rarer cases, be a sign of an underlying condition, some of which we will cover a little later on.

Foot pain symptoms

The symptoms of foot pain will depend on what’s causing it. However, common things to look out for include:

  • It being tender to touch
  • Pain when putting weight on it
  • Pain when moving it
  • Numbness
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Weakness in the joint and muscles
  • Stiffness

What can Footpain be a symptom of?

As we mentioned, the most common causes of foot pain are overuse or injury. However, there are many other conditions that could cause you to have pain in one foot or in both feet. These include:

Achilles Tendonitis

The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscle to the heel bone and if this becomes inflamed you may experience a sharp or piercing pain. This is a slowly developing condition that can become worse over time if left untreated, so you should see a doctor if the pain is severe.

Bunions

Bunions develop on the side of the foot at the big toe joint. They are caused by the joint slowly bending inwards towards the other toes.

Chilblains

These are small swellings that can occur on your toes as a reaction to cold temperatures. They are itchy and uncomfortable, but do not usually cause permanent damage.

Gout

Gout affects certain joints, causing them to swell, making it very painful to the touch. It is particularly common in the big toe joint. If you have pain in your big toe, as well as swelling and red, hot skin, it could be due to gout.

Learn more about Gout

Ingrown toenail

If a toenail grows inward and digs into the skin of your toes, this is known as an ingrown toenail. You may have redness and pain in the area, and sometimes it can become infected. If it is swollen, sore or has blood or pus coming from it, you should see a doctor.

Plantar fasciitis

If you have pain in your heel, this could be the cause. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot and it can become inflamed or irritated. There are many causes, including overuse or having flat feet.

Oedema

When fluid builds up in your body, the affected areas can become swollen, and this can happen in your feet. The skin may also become discoloured, be achy or stiff.

Fungal nail infection

If your toenail is discoloured, brittle or lifts or falls off, an infection could be the cause of your foot pain.

Athlete’s foot

Caused by a fungus, this is a rash that is common on your feet, usually between your toes and can sometimes be uncomfortable.

Broken bones

If you feel a crack or grinding noise during an injury, along with pain, it could be a sign that something is broken or fractured. You will need to visit A&E to treat a broken or fractured bone.

Your foot pain may be caused by something else that we have not covered on this list. If you are worried, you can speak to a doctor for more advice.

If you have an existing condition that can impact your feet, such as diabetes, you should seek medical advice.

What should you do if you have foot pain?

While foot pain is not normally a cause for concern, and should get better on its own, you should see a doctor if:

  • The pain suddenly gets worse
  • The pain is very severe
  • The pain is persistent
  • You have a very high temperature along with the pain
  • You are showing signs of an infection, such as a painful and swollen groin area
  • There is a change in the skin colour on your affected foot

If your foot pain needs treatment, you may be referred to a specialist who will be able to help you recover as quickly as possible.

If you are showing the following signs, you should go to A&E:

  • If you think you have broken or fractured a bone
  • Your leg or ankle changes shape
  • You can’t put any weight on your foot
  • You feel faint or dizzy due to the pain
  • You have severe swelling or bruising

A foot pain diagnosis can sometimes be difficult due to the complicated structure of the foot. As some of the most common causes of foot pain are due to overuse, injury or improper footwear, you can try some home treatments that might help, if the pain is manageable:

  • Rest and avoid putting weight on it
  • Elevate your feet
  • Soak your feet in warm water
  • Place an ice pack on the area for 20 minutes at a time, every few hours
  • Wear proper fitting shoes and avoid high heels
  • Wear shoe inserts for extra support
  • Take paracetamol

How can Push Doctor help?

With Push Doctor, you can see a GP about your foot pain at a time that suits you. Our doctors are available 7 days a week and can offer you the advice, diagnosis and treatment you may need. They can also refer you to a specialist, such as a podiatrist, for further investigation or treatment if necessary.