What is foot pain?

  • Pain in the ball of the foot can be the result of a callus on the bottom of your foot causing pressure. The ball of your foot may be bearing too much of pressure because you have high arches or because you are wearing high heels or other shoes that put too much pressure on this part of your foot. It is also possible that you have a problem with the ligaments at the base of your toes or inflammation of those joints.
  • Heel pain can be either beneath your heel (on the bottom of your foot) or behind it, on the back of your leg. If the pain is beneath your heel, it is likely due to plantar fasciitis. If it’s behind your heel, it is a problem with your Achilles tendon.
  • The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that goes from your heel to your toes. Plantar fasciitis is when there is inflammation in this band of tissue. The pain will be right under your heel and could be dull or sharp. It hurts the most when you take the first steps in the morning or after resting it for a while.
  • An inflamed Achilles tendon is also an overuse injury. Runners are at risk for this injury. Inflammation can also result from shoes that rub the Achilles tendon.

When to See a Doctor

  • See a doctor if the pain does not improve after a month of doing stretching exercises or if you think you have a heel spur.
  • If a heel spur is causing pain that will not go away with stretching and other treatment, surgery may be a good treatment option. Your doctor will refer you to an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the foot and ankle to talk about surgery.
  • See your doctor if home care does not work. You may have a problem with your joints or ligaments.
  • You may be able to get special inserts for your shoes called orthoses or orthotics. These will change where you put pressure on your feet as you walk.

Treatments & Prevention


Home Care Options

  • Soak your foot and use a pumice stone to gently remove calluses on the ball of the foot that are causing pressure.
  • Switch to shoes that fit well and do not put pressure on the ball of the foot.
  • Wear shoes with arch support, or use an insert to support your arch, so your whole foot can absorb shock instead of just the ball of your foot.
  • Stretching is the most effective treatment for plantar fasciitis and inflamed Achilles tendon. Most people who follow the stretching routine recover and prevent future episodes.
  • If you run or walk for exercise, take some time off from those activities.
  • Ice and rest can relieve pain from plantar fasciitis and an inflamed Achilles tendon. You can also take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAID) like ibuprofen.
  • Heel inserts (heel cups) can relieve pain for both conditions. These are available at the drug store.
  • You may want to wear sandals or other shoes that do not rub against the back of your foot while you are recovering from an Achilles injury.
  • Make sure you have arch support, either with supportive shoes, inserts, or orthotics.

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