Foot, Toe Pain

Print icon

What is it?

Foot pain is common in people of all ages.

It can occur in the heel, toes, arch, instep, sole or ankles.

Foot and toe pain is usually the result of everyday wear and tear, overuse or injury.


What causes it?

Foot and toe injuries most commonly occur during sports or recreational activities, work-related tasks or around the home.

In children, most foot and toe injuries occur during sports or play, or as a result of accidental falls.

Some athletes, such as dancers, gymnasts, footballers or basketball and netball players, have an increased risk of toe, foot and ankle injuries.

Older adults are at higher risk for injuries and fractures because they lose muscle mass and bone strength as they age. They also have more problems with vision and balance, which increases their risk for accidental injury.

As well as injuries, foot pain can be caused by:

  • Bunions – a protrusion at the base of the big toe, which can become inflamed.

  • Hammer toes – toes that curl downward into a claw-like position.

  • Calluses and corns – thickened skin from friction or pressure. Calluses are on the balls of the feet or heels. Corns appear on your toes.

  • Plantar warts – from pressure on the soles of your feet.

  • Fallen arches (flat feet)

  • Poorly-fitting shoes

  • Morton’s neuroma – this is a type of foot pain that is usually centered between the third and fourth toes. It results from thickening and swelling of tissue around a nerve in the area. 

Other common causes of foot pain include:

  • Broken bones

  • Stress fractures

  • Arthritis

  • Gout (common in the big toe, which becomes red, swollen and very tender)

  • Plantar fasciitis

  • Bone spur

  • Sprains

  • Tendinitis


Arch pain is the term used to describe symptoms that occur under the arch of the foot.

When a person has arch pain they usually have inflammation of the tissues within the midfoot. The arch of the foot is formed by a tight band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes.

This band of tissue is important in proper foot mechanics and transfer of weight from the heel to the toes. When the tissue of the arch of the foot becomes irritated and inflamed, even simple movements can be quite painful.

The most common cause of arch pain is plantar fasciitis – inflammation of the fibrous band of tissue that connects the heel to the toes.

Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include pain early in the morning and pain with long walks or prolonged standing.


Common treatments

Most minor foot and toe injuries will heal without medical treatment.

Home treatment is usually all that is needed to relieve pain and promote healing.

Treatment depends on:

  • The location, type, and severity of the injury

  • When the injury occurred

  • Your age, overall health condition and your activities (such as work, sports, or hobbies)


Common home treatments for foot and toe injuries include:

  • Rest

  • Ice

  • Physical therapy

  • Anti-inflammatory medications


For severe pain it is important to seek medical advice.

Common treatments for plantar fasciitis include stretching exercises, anti-inflammatory medications, night splints and shoe inserts.

In some cases an injection of cortisone can decrease the inflammation of plantar fasciitis.

Your doctor may consider an operation to loosen the plantar fascia, called a plantar fascia release.

To prevent the recurrence of plantar fasciitis after treatment, proper fitting footwear (and possibly orthotics) is essential.

Follow Me on Pinterest
About Pain does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment