foot pain common causes

7 Common Causes of Foot Pain. Plus, What to Do About It

If it walks, it doesn't have to hurt too

In this post, you’ll about the common causes of foot pain.

The foot is a complex system of muscles, tendons, bones, and other tissue such as fascia.

Movements such as running and walking are highly dependent on the foot.

It acts as a cushion whenever you step on the ground and produces thrust that enables us to walk or run. 

Here’s the thing:

Pain is an indicator of interruption in either the intrinsic structure of the foot. Or how it interacts with the external environment. 


To get rid of pain in the feet, it’s vital to identify where the pain originates from. For example, is the pain from running or at rest? 

As a natural response, the body changes how it functions in times of distress as a method of relieving the ache.

Let’s dive in and look at some of the most typical causes of foot pain. 

1. Bunions

A bunion is a bump of bone that develops at the base joint of the big toe. 

This happens when you displace some of the major bones in the foot. This leads to the pulling of the big toe’s tip towards the other toes. 

As a result, the base of the big toe sticks out with the overlying skin turning red and tender. 

When it develops on the joint of the little toes, it is referred to as bunionette

The causes of a bunion include foot stress, injury, or congenital birth deformities.

Some footwear such as high-heeled and tightly-fitting narrow shoes may aggravate the condition. 

Diseases like arthritis are risk factors for bunion formation. 

Signs and symptoms:

A bump at the base of the big toe. Redness and pain over the area. Persistent or intermittent pain. Reduced mobility of the big toe.

Bunions can lead to other complications like bursitis, hammertoe, or metatarsalgia. 

Wearing the right shoes, and seeing a foot specialist on time can help prevent these complications. 

2. Plantar fasciitis

It is the leading cause of foot pain worldwide and is commonly experienced as heel pain. 

The condition affects plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a band of ligamentous tissue running from the of the foot to the front of the toes. 

The fascia sits at the bottom of the foot and supports the lower arch of the foot. 

Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the tissue bundle. And factors like heel tension and stress are the prime causes. 


The pain could also be the result of high impact activities. For example, running or wearing high-arched shoes. 

There are several risk factors for plantar fasciitis. These include obesity, repetitive strain, rigid calf muscles, and high foot arch.

Signs and symptoms: 

  • Pain along the foot arch that concentrates around the heel
  • The pain is usually worse in the morning but reduces with time during the day. 
  • Any activity also exacerbates the pain. 

At-home treatments include painkillers and simple exercises such as arch massage with a golf ball can help.

Wearing wide shoes can also help reduce pain. But if it persists after these interventions, seek professional help.

Related: Athlete’s Foot: Complete Guide to Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

3. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammation that affects every joint in the body. 

It causes the bones to move out of their regular arrangement and sit abnormally. 

If it affects the toes, the joints become swollen, painful, and stiff. 

It can also lead to the formation of tissue elevations at the bone junctions called rheumatoid nodules. These are usually quite painful. 

This disorder is inheritable. Consult with a rheumatologist if there’s a family history of rheumatoid arthritis.

4. Achilles tendinitis 

This is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon. 

This tendon is the tissue bundle attaching the muscles of the calf to the back of the heel. 

It results from overuse. And so it is more common in runners who suddenly increase the intensity of the exercises

Other sportsmen such as tennis players and basketballers also tend to experience this. 

In most instances, it is the highly-active middle-aged individuals who develop the condition.


Signs and symptoms: 

Usually, it starts as a mild heel or back leg pain after physical activities such as running. 

The ache progresses. And it can become severe even with routine tasks such as climbing stairs. 

Sometimes, there’s stiffness on waking up, which reduces with activity.

Analgesics is a good treatment for Achilles tendinitis. But, in severe cases that involve tendon rupture, surgical repair is necessary.

5. Diabetic neuropathy

For those with diabetes, among the possible complications include diabetic neuropathy. 

This is nerve damage resulting from an increase in blood glucose. It mostly affects the leg and foot nerves. 

When it affects the foot, the signs and symptoms include numbness.

It lowers the sensation of pain and temperature changes, burning or tingling feeling. 

In extreme cases, ulcers, bone pain, and infections might occur.

Prevention requires proper management of blood glucose as per the doctor’s instructions.

6. Muscle sprain or strain 

During exercise or any other activity, it is possible to ignore minor injuries such as a rolled ankle. 


The problem is overstretching your ankle tendons can cause sprains or strains. 

Ligaments or tendons are like rubber. It does not snap when excessively stretched, but they cause a lot of pain. 

Rest, ice compression, and elevated foot are some home remedies for strain or sprains. Consider physical therapy as the condition improves. 

You can also try these easy stretches for foot pain relief if the sprain is around the foot.

7. Gout 

Gout is another disease that is like arthritis. It is one of the common causes of foot pain.

You can inherit it from parents. And it is usually related to reduced kidney function. 

When you have gout, the kidneys are not able to excrete uric acid well enough. This leads to over accumulation. 

The uric acid turns into crystals and settle in the extremities with a preference for the toe joints. 

This causes swelling, redness, and hotness over the bone, which is often super-sensitive to touch.