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What is foot pain, and what causes it?

Foot pain is one of the most common troubles people encounter. Whether it's blisters or bunions, warts or athlete's foot, lower back pain, or heel or arch pain, your feet are integral to your health, so it’s important to take your foot health seriously!

There are many different causes of foot pain. Being overweight and aging can increase your chances of developing foot problems. Foot pain can be due to a problem of any component of the foot. Some foot problems start in the foot itself, for example, from a foot injury. Foot fractures can also be a common cause of foot pain.

Close-up view of the underside of a bare foot with calluses, a potential cause of foot pain

Pain around the balls of the feet and the bones in that area can develop by wearing shoes that are too tight or wearing high heels.

Problems causing foot pain may include the following:

  • Bunions: A bump at the base of the big toe, which can become inflamed. These often develop over time from wearing narrow-toed shoes

  • Calluses and corns: Thickened skin from rubbing or pressure. These often develop on your toes, feet, fingers, and hands

  • Hammer toes: Toes that curl downward into a claw-like position

  • Fallen arches: Also called flat feet

  • Plantar warts: Skin growths on the soles of the feet due to a viral infection (virus)

Other common causes of foot pain include:

  • Achilles tendon problems: Such as Achilles tendinitis

  • Broken bones

  • Gout: Common in the big toe, which becomes red, swollen, and very tender.

  • Morton's neuroma: A thickening of nerve tissue between the toes

  • Plantar fasciitis

  • Sprains

  • Stress fracture

Side view of a pair of bare feet raised in the air

"Tired feet" is not a medical condition, but a rather common complaint related to various medical conditions. Muscle fatigue can be due to an abnormal foot structure (flat foot or high arched foot), which can overburden the foot. Tired feet can also develop because of other potential factors, such as being overweight or pregnant, improper footwear, leg swelling, increased activity level, or compensation from an injury (through overuse of other parts of the foot and/or the opposite foot)

Side view of the foot of someone with flat feet, a potential cause of foot pain