Symptoms of Foot Pain: Quick Reference
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There are different types of foot pain, each with different symptoms. Below is a chart listing the symptoms and recommended footwear or orthotics for each type of foot pain.
|Condition||Symptoms and Signs||Location of Symptoms||Recommended Footwear and Orthotics or Padding|
|Corns and calluses||These are characterized by hard, dead, yellowish skin and pain over the corn.||Around toes, usually the little toe; bottom of feet; or areas exposed to friction.||Wide (box-toe) shoes; soft cushions under heel or ball of foot or customized or gel insoles for calluses; doughnut-shaped pads for corns|
|Ingrown toenails||A nail curling into skin causes pain, swelling, and, in extreme cases, infection.||Toenails||Sandals, open-toed shoes|
|Bunions and bunionettes (tailor's bunion)||The toes point inward. The area next to the bony bump is red, tender, and swollen. The toe joint may be inflamed.||Big toe (bunions) or little toe (bunionettes)||Soft, wide-toed shoes or sandals; bunion shields or splints; thick doughnut-shaped moleskin pad; custom-made orthotics or foot slings if necessary|
|Morton's neuroma||Cramping and burning pain is located between the third and fourth toe or the second and third toe. The neuroma may be detected by pressing hard in between the toes. The condition is aggravated by prolonged standing and relieved by the removal of the shoes and forefoot massage.||Third and fourth toes, as well as second and third toes, and bottom of foot near these toes||Wide (box-toe) shoes; orthotic or insole with pad that reduces stress on the painful area|
|Hammertoe||Toes form a hammer or claw shape. No pain is experienced at first, but pain increases as the tendon becomes tighter and toes stiffen.||Usually second toe, but may develop in any or all of the three middle toes||Wide (box-toe) shoes; toe pads or specially designed shields, splints, caps, or slings ( Note: Splints or slings are not for people with diabetes.)|
|Metatarsalgia||This condition is characterized by acute, recurrent, or chronic pain.||Ball of the foot||Wide (box-toe) shoes; orthotic with pad that reduces metatarsal pressure; gel cushions; metatarsal bandage|
|Metatarsal stress fracture||Pain occurs with activities, such as running and jumping.||Area beneath the second or third toe||Low-heeled shoes with stiff soles.|
|Sesamoiditis||Pain occurs possibly with swelling and local tenderness.||Ball of foot beneath the big toe.||Low-heeled shoe with stiff sole and soft padding inside|
|Plantar fasciitis||At onset, some people report a tearing or popping sound. Pain, usually severe, occurs with first steps after getting out of bed, decreasing after stretching, and returning after activity.||Back of the arch right in front of heel.||Over-the-counter foot insole (cut quarter-size hole surrounding painful area); possible night splints; orthotics if necessary|
|Haglund's deformity (pump bump)||Tender swelling is aggravated by shoes with stiff backs.||Fleshy area on the back of the heel.||Shoes with soft posterior counter.|
|Stress fracture||Sharp stabbing pain occurs with activity.||Bottom of heel||Stop the offending activity|
|Tarsal tunnel syndrome||This is characterized by numbness, tingling, or burning sensations; pain is most commonly felt at night.||Usually in the mid- portion of the foot||Specially designed orthotics to relieve pressure|
|Flat feet or posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (PTTD)||People with this condition have no arch. Often no pain or discomfort is felt. Three stages in PTTD include: pain and weakness in the tendon, the arch flattens but is still flexible, the foot becomes very painful to walk or run on, and gait is adversely affected.||Arch||For children, possibly custom-made insoles|
|High arches (cavus feet)||Those with high arches may have lower back pain and possibly a tendency to have lower limb injuries.||Arch||Orthotic inserts or special shoes to support the arch|
|Achilles tendinitis||Pain worsens during physical activities (particularly running), after which the tendon area often swells and stiffens.||Achilles tendon (the area behind the ankle near the heel bone)||Possibly orthotic inserts to balance the foot|
American Diabetes Association website. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/home.jsp .
American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society website. Available at: http://www.aofas.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1 .
American Podiatric Medical Association website. Available at: http://www.apma.org/s_apma/index.asp .
National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/ .
Last reviewed April 2009 by ]]>Robert Leach, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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