Foot pain is not normal and shouldn’t be ignored. For many, this might seem obvious, but for those living with chronic pain, it can sometimes be hard to remember what it was like before the problem entered their lives. It’s important to realize when you need to seek treatment for your injuries so that you can return to living a normal, comfortable life. But what if you’re not sure what’s causing your pain or discomfort?
Check out these five common causes of foot pain:
1. Acute pain at the ball of your foot
The large joint beneath your big toe is often referred to as the “ball” of your foot. Sharp pain in this region may indicate metatarsalgia, especially if it becomes worse during physical activity. The Mayo Clinic reported that it can feel as if there is a pebble between the joint and the ground as you walk. The condition is not normally serious, especially if treated right away. Your health care professional can advise you about specific ways to treat the problem, but in general the pain will lessen over time if you rest the foot frequently and avoid the activities that brought on the issue. You may also find that icing the area can provide temporary relief.
2. Painful swelling just below your big toe
This pain is similar to that of metatarsalgia, but is accompanied by swelling of the surrounding tissue. In this case, the problem could be sesamoiditis, a swelling of the two small bones in the front of the foot. According to NorthWell, sesamoiditis is most common in people with a low percentage of body fat and it can be caused by wearing shoes with worn-out soles. Decreasing physical activity and buying a pair of shoes with the proper padding should ease the pain.
3. Warm, swollen and painful heel
The bursa is a fluid-filled sac found near most of the major joints. There’s also one located near the heel, which acts as a natural cushion and lubricant for the nearby tendons. Repeated or heavier-than-normal use of the ankle may cause the bursa to swell. This is known as bursitis of the heel. Treatment options include taking over-the-counter pain relievers, icing the area and using a heel insert, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Extreme cases may require physical therapy or steroid injections.
4. Swollen, stiff and painful Achilles tendon
This type of pain should never be ignored as there’s a possibility it could be caused by a torn or ruptured Achilles tendon, which connects your calf muscle to your heel. The pain could also be caused by Achilles tendonitis. According to the Mayo Clinic, the condition is often the result of a sudden increase in physical activity, and the risk becomes greater as you age. Home treatment options including over-the-counter pain medication, rest and gentle heel exercises. An example of such an exercise is to stand on your toes and then very slowly lower your weight back down to your entire foot.
5. Alternating numbness, tingling and burning along the bottom of the foot
These sensations may be caused by tarsal tunnel syndrome, which is an inflammation of the tarsal tunnel in the ankle which compresses the tibial nerve. The University of Rochester reported that treatment for these symptoms should always begin with a cessation of the activities that caused them. Following that, a doctor may elect to put the foot in a cast to immobilize it while the inflammation reduces. In problematic and chronic cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the swollen tissue around the nerve.