diagnosing foot pain

How to know what’s wrong with Your Foot

diagnosing foot pain

Maybe you’ve felt pain in your foot for your whole life, or maybe it’s just started now.  But regardless of how long you’ve been feeling pain in your foot, you’ve probably been wondering what could possibly be wrong with it.

The human foot is actually much more complex than many people think. Your foot is composed of exactly twenty four bones that form two arches, the ankles of your foot are formed by the interaction between your foot and leg, and the bones in your foot are only held together via the ligaments.

The muscles in your foot provide secondary support to walking, standing, posturing, holding up your weight, etc.

If there is pain in your foot, it usually means something wrong. In that case, you’ll want to do what you can to determine what the issue is.

Common Causes

The most likely causes of pain in your foot are due to trauma, physical injuries, or diseases. Other common issues include improper posturing and wearing uncomfortable shoes (you should always wear shoes that have soft cushioning and proper arch for your foot).

Examples of shoes that don’t really work very well for feet are high heels, as they put immense pressure on the ball of your feet, and shoes that are extremely tight.

As we have mentioned, a common problem with foot pain are diseases, but they are also often combined with physical injuries or trauma.

Trauma is when something from outside the body impacts the body and causes damage. So when you accidentally drop something heavy and it lands on your toes, this is an example of trauma.

Common physical injuries include sprains on the ligaments and muscles, bruises, fractures, or broken bones.

These physical injuries can be due to silly mistakes like stubbing your toe on the wall, or jumping in the air after a Frisbee and landing down on your foot the wrong way.

It doesn’t even have to be a hard physical accident. Even light accidents that only lightly loosen the ligaments in your foot can lead to acute levels of pain.

Other reasons behind foot pain can include cutting your foot, overstretching or overusing.

If you’re on your feet too much and aren’t giving them enough rest, then problems are most likely going to result.

You may also step on a sharp object like a fallen knife or nail, which can damage your foot as well.


Another less common reason for foot pain is stress. Not stress as in feeling stressed out from work or over finances, but stress as in putting too much pressure or taking a blow to your foot. Repetitive trauma is also an example of stress on your foot.

Other examples include someone stepping on your foot, taking a directly blow that can break through the skin and damage the bones and ligaments, to putting too much pressure on the joints, to straining the tendons in your foot (which is more common with athletes than everyday people).

Stress gets worse as the trauma becomes repetitive without real treatment. So taking more trauma to the bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons is going to be bad.

In extreme cases, it may get to the point where you need surgery, since non-surgical treatment methods will have limited to no effect on healing the pain in your foot.

Another example of stress to your foot can be sprains or overstretching.  Overstretching your ligaments alone is bound to cause some problems, especially the ligaments that attach your foot to the ankle.

Another example of stress to the foot is repeated small injuries like small cuts or bruises.

These are referred to as microtrauma injuries that are mostly due to physical activities and exercises like running on uneven terrain or wearing shoes that do not have the proper cushioning and arch support to absorb the force that is put on your feet as you run.  In all honesty, microtrauma will occur the most when you don’t wear proper foot wear.

Shoes that are too tight, don’t fit your feet, or were made for a different purpose will all lead to thickening up the tissue around the nerves in your foot that can lead to consistent numbness and pain in your feet at regular intervals.

Other examples of microtrauma include developing blisters, bleeding, bunions, bruises, and stretching your Achilles tendon.

The long term effects of these microtrauma injuries will be devastating, such as misalignment of the parts of your foot and irritation of your nerves.

So while microtrauma may not seem like a big deal at the time of it happening, it can definitely develop into something bigger, and the consequences of not dealing with the problem when you had the chance will be sure to come back to haunt you.

A critical part of good, proper footwear is to wear shoes that have good arch support.  The arches in your feet will absorb any force that is applied to your foot.

A major part of your foot is the plantar fascia, which runs from the bottom of your foot to the arch.

When this is damage, it can cause swelling, inflammation and pain. It’s usually not a good idea to wear shoes with high or low arches because they both have been known to cause pain.


Diseases are unfortunately another source of foot pain. Common diseases that bring pain to the foot include arthritis, gout, and diabetes, but other sources can include developing viruses, fungi and bacteria.

Another problem is nerve disorder which will lead to numbness and a burning sensation in your feet that you would be wise to have checked out by your doctor.

Another problem that can cause pain on the feet is warts, which are usually in turn cause by a virus.

Warts can cause immense irritation on the feet that can eventually lead to higher levels of pain.

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