Say “flower” or “cat” to a group of people, and odds are good that each will conjure a different example in his or her mind. Similarly, “foot pain” does not take one set form. While a flower or a cat is much more preferable to have, knowing different types of foot pain can help identify the problems at hand.
We have outlined several types of foot pain below, as well as a few of their possible causes. Please note that this information is intended as a basic reference and should not be used for self-diagnosis. There are plenty of extra, outlying factors that can influence one’s symptoms and a professional examination is always best.
Pain anywhere between the heel and the ball of the foot is frequently considered “arch pain.” The most common cause of pain here is plantar fasciitis, the inflammation of a long band of tissue that supports the arch. Overuse and flatfoot are two potential risk factors for this and other potential causes of arch pain.
The ball of the foot, just behind your toes, is where the metatarsal bones reside. You might hear pain in this location generally referred to as metatarsalgia. Causes of such pain can include overuse injuries due to overly intense physical activity. An abnormal distribution of stress along the foot, due either to high arches, poorly fitting shoes, excess weight, or deformities such as hammertoes and bunions, can also be responsible.
If you have pain in the ball of the foot accompanied by a feeling as if a pebble is caught in your shoe, it may be a sign of a neuroma.
Burning or Tingling Pain
A burning or painfully tingling sensation in the feet can often mean damage to the nerves, otherwise known as neuropathy. When nerves become damaged, they may activate improperly and send signals of pain to the brain even when there is no sign of injury. Athlete’s foot and other infections can also be causes of burning in the feet.
Plantar fasciitis (see Arch Pain above) can also be a regular culprit in causing heel pain as well, especially when bearing weight first thing in the morning or standing up after a long period of sitting. Heel spurs also sometimes cause pain, but finding one does not always mean it is responsible.
Other causes of pain in the heel can include Achilles tendonitis, bursitis and—often seen in active children and teens—Sever’s disease.