Common Causes of Foot Pain

Sooner or later, you can expect to have foot pain. Again. Maybe you stub your toe. Or you hurt something on your foot. Or twist your ankle.

Some foot pain has an obvious cause. Other types of foot pain don't. 

At Family Health Center of Bastrop, podiatrist James Handy, DPM, and our entire medical team encourage you to pay attention to foot pain and address it as soon as possible. 

You need your feet for almost everything you do, so identifying the source of foot pain and resolving it as soon as possible lets you live life to its fullest and avoid complications.

Do your feet ache right now? Here are some of the most common reasons for foot pain, based on where your foot hurts.

Your big toe aches

If you have sharp pain in your big toe joint, you could have a type of arthritis known as gout. Your big toe also may look swollen and red, or feel warm to the touch.

Gout occurs when you eat too many foods that contain purines. Purines are found in abundance in rich foods such as red meat and beer.

When your body breaks down purines, they become uric acid. Normally, your body excretes uric acid when you urinate. But if you eat too many purines, you produce so much uric acid that your kidneys can’t process it all. 

Instead, the uric acid collects in your joints — particularly your big toe joint — where it solidifies and forms needle-like uric acid crystals.

Gout tends to be worse at night. Gout pain can even prevent you from sleeping well. We recommend adopting a low-purine diet to minimize gout attacks. 

The bottom of your foot hurts

The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that runs along the sole of your foot, from the bottom of your toe bones to your heel. A healthy plantar fascia supports your arch so that your foot can bend and flex as you walk or run.

But over time, you can develop small tears in the plantar fascia that become inflamed, which leads to a condition called plantar fasciitis. You may feel like you’re being stabbed with needles along the sole of your foot.

Plantar fasciitis tends to be worse when you first wake up in the morning or after other periods of inactivity. You’re more likely to develop plantar fasciitis if you’re obese, stand for most of the day, or are a runner.

We may recommend that you wear a night splint to gently stretch your plantar fascia so that it’s not as susceptible to micro-tears and damage. Physical therapy also helps you strengthen and stretch this important tissue. 

Wearing custom-designed orthotics gives your arches the support you need to help control plantar fasciitis pain. If you don’t improve with these conservative measures, we may recommend surgery to detach the plantar fascia.

The back of your heel or calf is painful

The Achilles tendon connects your heel to the back of your lower leg. If you’re a runner or play sports, you’re at increased risk for stretching or tearing your Achilles tendon. 

Achilles tendinitis refers to a stretched and traumatized Achilles tendon that’s painful and swollen. If you don’t treat tendinitis, your tendon might eventually rupture, which could require surgical repair.

If we diagnose a ruptured Achilles tendon or tendinitis, we may recommend conservative measures, such as resting your foot, elevating your foot, and using hot-and-cold therapy. You may also benefit from physical therapy to strengthen and stretch your tendon.

Your ankle or side of your foot hurts

If you twist your ankle or land wrong when you walk, run, or jump, you could strain or sprain the ligaments, tendons, and muscles in your foot. Sprained and strained ankles are common in people who play sports, but anyone can suffer a sprain or strain.

Although sprains and strains aren’t usually serious injuries, they share symptoms with more severe injuries, including fractures and stress fractures. We examine your ankle and foot and take X-rays and other images to determine whether you have a simple sprain or strain or a more complex fracture.

Staying off your foot or ankle helps you heal from a sprain or strain. We may recommend a brace or even assistive devices, such as crutches, until your foot heals.

If your foot hurts, find out what’s causing your pain by scheduling an evaluation at Family Health Center of Bastrop today. We have locations in Bastrop and Smithville, Texas.

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