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There are different types of foot pain, each with different symptoms. Below is a chart listing the symptoms and recommended footwear or orthotics for each type of foot pain.

ConditionSymptoms and SignsLocation of SymptomsRecommended Footwear and Orthotics or Padding
Corns and callusesThese are rough, thickened skin that is yellow or reddish. The area may also be painful.Around the side, top, or between toes; bottom of feet; or areas exposed to friction.Wide (toe box) shoes; lamb's wool between toes; doughnut-shaped pads for corns
Ingrown toenailsA nail curling into skin causes pain, redness, swelling, warmth, and, in severe cases, infection.ToenailsSandals, open-toed shoes
Bunions and bunionettes (tailor's bunion)The toes point inward. There is a firm bump on the outside edge of the foot at base of the toe that is painful and stiff.Big toe (bunions) or little toe (bunionettes)Soft, wide-toed shoes or sandals; bunion shields or splints; padding the bunion; shoe inserts if necessary
Morton's neuromaCramping and burning pain located between the third and fourth toe or the second and third toe. The condition is worse while walking and relieved by the removal of the shoes.Third and fourth toes, as well as second and third toes, and bottom of foot near these toesWide (toe box), low-heeled shoes with good arch support; shoe inserts; padding in the shoes and/or between the toes
HammertoeToes form a hammer or claw shape. There may be pain and cramping.The second, third, or fourth toesWide (toe box) shoes; straps, cushions, or pads
MetatarsalgiaThis condition is characterized by pain, numbness, or tingling with movement.Ball of the footWide (toe box) shoes; Shoes with a stiff heel and good arch support; orthotic with pad that reduces metatarsal pressure; inserts
Metatarsal stress fractureAche, tenderness, and swelling. Weight-bearing activities are difficult.Long foot bones (metatarsals)Low-heeled shoes with stiff soles; shoe inserts or braces
SesamoiditisPain occurs possibly with swelling and bruising.Ball of foot beneath the big toeLow-heeled shoe with soft sole and soft padding inside
Plantar fasciitisPain occurs with first steps after getting out of bed, decreases after stretching, and returns after activity.Back of the arch right in front of the heelShoes with thick soles and extra padding; foot insole; heel pad; possible night splints; orthotics if necessary
Haglund's deformity (pump bump)This condition is characterized by a painful, red, swollen bump.Back of the heelShoes with a soft heel; backless shoes; arch supports
Stress fractureSharp stabbing pain occurs with activity. May also include swelling.Weight-bearing bones of the footProtective footwear; stiff-soled shoe; wooden-soled sandal
Tarsal tunnel syndromeThis is characterized by pain, numbness, tingling, or burning sensations. Pain may be worse at night.Usually in the mid- portion of the foot and heelOrthotics to relieve pressure
Flat feet or posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (PTTD)People with this condition have no arch. They may have pain with activity.ArchOrthotics may be needed if there is pain
High arches (cavus feet)Those with high arches may have pain when standing or walking or an unstable foot.ArchSoft orthotic cushions
Achilles tendinitisPain that worsens during physical activities.Achilles tendon (the area behind the ankle near the heel bone)Shoes with a soft heel; heel lift; walking boot

Foot pain may also be caused by other medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, or gout.

References:

Achilles tendinitis. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00147. Updated June 2010. Accessed February 17, 2014.

Adult acquired flat foot. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00173. Updated December 2011. Accessed February 17, 2014.

Callus. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 19, 2011. Accessed February 17, 2014.

Cavus foot (high-arched foot). American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons Foot Health Facts website. Available at: http://www.foothealthfacts.org/footankleinfo/cavus-foot.htm. Accessed February 17, 2014.

Corn. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 10, 2010. Accessed February 17, 2014.

Corns. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00153. Updated September 2012. Accessed February 17, 2014.

Haglund's deformity. American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons Foot Health Facts website. Available at: http://www.foothealthfacts.org/footankleinfo/haglunds-deformity.htm. Accessed February 17, 2014.

Hallux valgus and bunion. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 31, 2014. Accessed February 17, 2014.

Hammer toe. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 25, 2010. Accessed February 17, 2014.

Hammer toe. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Updated September 2012. Accessed February 17, 2014.

Ingrown toenail. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 17, 2012. Accessed February 17, 2014.

Metatarsalgia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 31, 2014. Accessed February 17, 2014.

Morton neuroma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 31, 2014. Accessed February 17, 2014.

Orthotics. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00172. Updated September 2012. Accessed February 17, 2014.

Plantar fasciitis and bone spurs. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00149. Updated June 2010. Accessed February 17, 2014.

Sesamoiditis. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00164. Updated September 2012. Accessed February 17, 2014.

Stress fractures of the foot and ankle. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00379. Updated July 2009. Accessed February 17, 2014.

Stress fractures. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00112. Updated October 2007. Accessed February 17, 2014.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 31, 2014. Accessed February 17, 2014.



Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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