Foot Pain

Foot pain can occur anywhere in your foot, including your heel, arch and toes. It’s usually a symptom of an injury or an underlying health condition. Identifying the cause can help you get the right treatment.


What is foot pain?

Foot pain can occur on the top, bottom or sides of your feet. It can affect your heel, toes, arch and anywhere in between.

Because most of us use our feet every day, foot pain is common. But in addition to overuse, you can develop foot pain from sporting injuries, underlying health conditions and wearing shoes that don’t fit properly.

There are several ways to treat foot pain, but it’s important to identify the underlying cause first. Once you know why your foot hurts, you can find the right solution. A primary care physician or podiatrist (foot specialist) can recommend a treatment plan and help you find ways to ease foot pain at home.


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Possible Causes

What causes foot pain?

Several different factors can cause foot pain. General reasons why people develop foot pain include:

  • Standing on your feet for prolonged periods.
  • Aging.
  • Injury or trauma.
  • Overuse.
  • Having obesity (a body mass index, or BMI, of 30 or higher).
  • Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly.
Causes of foot pain include sprains, strains, osteoarthritis, tendonitis, gout, plantar fasciitis, and more.
Many things can cause foot pain, including injuries and certain health conditions. Symptoms can occur anywhere on your foot.

To find the culprit, it’s a good idea to figure out where the pain is coming from. Specific types of foot pain and the most common causes of each include:

Top of foot pain

If you have pain on the top of your foot, possible causes include:

Bottom of foot pain

Pain in the bottom of your foot, including arch pain and ball of foot pain, might develop because of:

Side of foot pain

Pain on the outside of your foot could indicate:

Foot heel pain

Heel pain is a common symptom of:

Toe pain

Nerve pain in foot

Nerve pain might feel like a burning, tingling or electric shock sensation. Nerve pain in your foot could indicate:

Care and Treatment

How is foot pain treated?

Foot pain treatment depends on the cause and severity of your symptoms. To get a proper diagnosis, a healthcare provider can do a physical examination. They may also take foot X-rays and ask questions about your symptoms. This might include things like:

  • Can you pinpoint where it hurts?
  • How long have you had these symptoms?
  • Do your symptoms get worse during certain activities or times of the day?
  • Have you had this type of pain before?
  • How have you managed the pain until now?

Your provider will make treatment recommendations based on your specific symptoms and goals. Possible foot pain treatments include:

  • Orthotics (shoe inserts).
  • Steroid injections.
  • Shoes that offer the specific type of support you need.
  • Physical therapy.
  • Removal of corns, calluses or plantar warts.
  • Casts or splints for broken bones.
  • Foot surgery.

Home remedies for foot pain

You can also try things to reduce foot pain at home:

  • Wear shoes that fit properly for your needs. Your healthcare provider can help.
  • Keep your feet elevated when possible.
  • Use ice packs to reduce any pain or swelling.
  • Avoid activities that cause flare-ups until you feel better.
  • Take over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®).


Can foot pain be prevented?

You may not be able to prevent foot pain altogether, but you can reduce your risk by following these guidelines:

  • Wear shoes that have a wide toe box and good arch support.
  • Always stretch before exercising or playing sports.
  • If you run, replace your sneakers often.
  • Maintain a weight that’s healthy for you.
  • Ask your healthcare provider to show you stretches and exercises that can reduce your specific type of foot pain.

When To Call the Doctor

When should I call my healthcare provider?

Foot pain is common, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep living with it. You should schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider if:

  • Foot pain lasts longer than two weeks with no improvement.
  • You have sudden or severe foot pain.
  • Foot pain occurred following an injury.
  • You notice signs of infection like redness, swelling or fever.
  • You have diabetes or another condition that affects blood flow.


Additional Common Questions

How can I stop foot pain from standing all day?

If you lead an active lifestyle or have a job that requires standing for much of the day, you might have frequent foot pain. Here are some things that may reduce your discomfort:

  • Wear orthotics for additional support.
  • Put your feet up when you get home. Keeping them elevated can help reduce swelling.
  • Try a foot soak.
  • Get a massage or give yourself one by rolling the bottom of your foot over a tennis ball.
  • If you have redness and swelling, apply ice.
  • If you have muscle tightness, apply heat.

How can I treat nerve pain in my foot at home?

You can try these things to relieve nerve pain in your feet:

  • Take breaks often to rest your feet.
  • Use ice packs to ease pain and swelling.
  • Soak your feet in Epsom salt for 20 minutes a day.
  • Wear compression socks to reduce inflammation and improve circulation.
  • Try topical lidocaine to numb your skin.
  • Massage your feet to help reduce swelling and improve circulation.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

You probably don’t think about your feet very often. But when they start hurting, it’s hard to think about anything else. Sometimes, there’s a clear reason for foot pain. Other times, it may not be so obvious. If you have foot pain that won’t go away no matter what you do, it’s time to call your healthcare provider. They can figure out why. They’ll help find treatments to ease your pain and improve your quality of life.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 10/11/2023.

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