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Symptoms of Foot Pain: Quick Reference

Each type of foot pain is different. This chart lists the symptoms, locations, and footwear that may help.

ProblemSymptoms Location Helpful Footwear, Orthotics, or Padding
Corns and callusesThese are rough, thickened skin that is yellow or reddish. There may also be pain.Around the side, top, or between toes; bottom of feet; or parts exposed to friction.Wide (toe box) shoes; lamb's wool between toes; doughnut-shaped pads for corns
Ingrown toenailsA nail that curls into the skin causes pain, redness, swelling, and warmth. There may also be infection. ToenailsSandals, open-toed shoes
Bunions and bunionettes The toes point inward. There is a firm bump on the outside edge of the foot at base of the toe that is painful and stiff.Big toe (bunions) or little toe (bunionettes)Soft, wide-toed shoes or sandals; bunion shields or splints; padding the bunion; shoe inserts if needed
Morton neuromaThere is cramping and burning pain between the third and fourth toe or the second and third toe. It is worse while walking and better when shoes are taken off.Third and fourth toes, as well as second and third toes, and bottom of foot near these toesWide (toe box), low-heeled shoes with good arch support; shoe inserts; padding in the shoes and/or between the toes
HammertoeToes form a hammer or claw shape. There may be pain and cramping.The second, third, or fourth toesWide (toe box) shoes; straps, cushions, or pads
MetatarsalgiaThere is pain, numbness, or tingling when moving.Ball of the footWide (toe box) shoes; Shoes with a stiff heel and good arch support; orthotic with pad that eases metatarsal pressure; inserts
Metatarsal stress fractureAche, tenderness, and swelling. Weight-bearing activities are hard to do.Long foot bones (metatarsals)Low-heeled shoes with stiff soles; shoe inserts or braces
SesamoiditisPain may happen with swelling and bruising.Ball of foot beneath the big toeLow-heeled shoe with soft sole and soft padding inside
Plantar fasciitisPain happens with the first steps after getting out of bed. It eases after stretching and comes back after activity.Back of the arch right in front of the heelShoes with thick soles and extra padding; foot insole; heel pad; night splints; orthotics if needed
Haglund deformity (pump bump)This is a painful, red, swollen bump.Back of the heelShoes with a soft heel; backless shoes; arch supports
Stress fractureThis is a sharp, stabbing pain that happens with activity. There may also be swelling.Weight-bearing bones of the footProtective footwear; stiff-soled shoe; wooden-soled sandal
Tarsal tunnel syndromeThis is a pain, numbness, tingling, or burning sensation. Pain may be worse at night.Usually in the mid- portion of the foot and heelOrthotics to ease pressure
Flat feet or posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (PTTD)People with this problem do not have an arch in their feet. It may cause pain with activity.ArchOrthotics may be needed if there is pain
High arches (cavus feet)This may cause pain when standing or walking or an unstable foot.ArchSoft orthotic cushions
Achilles tendonitisThis pain is worse during physical activities.Achilles tendon (the area behind the ankle near the heel bone)Shoes with a soft heel; heel lift; walking boot

REFERENCES:

Achilles tendinopathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/achilles-tendinopathy. Updated April 30, 2018. Accessed May 7, 2020.

Anterior tarsal tunnel syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/anterior-tarsal-tunnel-syndrome. Updated December 21, 2015. Accessed May 7, 2020.

Foot pain and problems. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/foot-pain-and-problems. Accessed May 5, 2020.

Foot complications. American Diabetes Association website. Available at: https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/complications/foot-complications. Updated May 5, 2020. Accessed May 5, 2020.

Foot care 101. American Podiatric Medical Association website. Available at: http://www.apma.org/files/FileDownloads/myFEETFootCare101.pdf. Accessed May 5, 2020.

Hallux valgus and bunion. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hallux-valgus-and-bunion. Updated November 22, 2017. Accessed May 7, 2020.

Hammer toe. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hammer-toe. Updated March 30, 2015. Accessed May 7, 2020.

Morton neuroma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/morton-neuroma. Updated June 8, 2016. Accessed May 7, 2020.

Pes planus. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/pes-planus-flatfoot. Updated September 26, 2017. Accessed May 7, 2020.

Plantar fasciitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/plantar-fasciitis. Updated March 21, 2020. Accessed May 7, 2020.

Posterior tarsal tunnel syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/posterior-tarsal-tunnel-syndrome/updates. Updated July 21, 2016. Accessed May 7, 2020.

Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM  Last Updated: 5/7/2020