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  • Writer's pictureDavid S Klein, MD

Foot pain Overview: Causes and Diagnosis

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

Inadequate diagnosis leads to inadequate treatment
Foot Pain is a Common Complaint


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Pain in the foot is a very common clinical entity.  Causes of foot pain can include arthritis, tendinitis, ligament inflammation, sprain and fracture. Metabolic diseases can cause foot pain, including gout, diabetes and vitamin deficiencies.

Often overlooked causes of foot pain include enthesopathies (tendinitis) of the knee, muscular spasm in the calf and nerve irritation in the thigh.

Foot pain can be a debilitating and distressing condition that affects individuals of all ages and lifestyles. Understanding the various causes of foot pain is crucial for effective diagnosis and management.

Structural Abnormalities: One of the most common causes of foot pain is structural abnormalities. Conditions such as flat feet, high arches, or abnormalities in the bones and joints can lead to improper weight distribution and strain on the feet. This often results in discomfort, especially after prolonged periods of standing or walking.

Footwear Choices: Wearing ill-fitting or unsupportive shoes can contribute significantly to foot pain. Shoes that lack proper arch support, cushioning, or have narrow toe boxes can lead to conditions like plantar fasciitis, bunions, and metatarsalgia. High heels, in particular, can place excessive pressure on the forefoot and alter the natural alignment of the foot, leading to pain and deformities.

Overuse and Repetitive Stress: Engaging in activities that involve repetitive motions or excessive pressure on the feet can lead to overuse injuries. Runners, athletes, and individuals who spend long hours on their feet are prone to conditions like stress fractures, tendonitis, and ligament strains. Poor training techniques and sudden increases in activity levels can exacerbate these issues.

Arthritis and Inflammatory Conditions: Arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, can affect the joints in the foot, leading to chronic pain, stiffness, and inflammation. These conditions can deteriorate the cartilage and synovial fluid in the joints, causing discomfort with every step.

Trauma and Injuries: Accidents, falls, and sports-related injuries can result in fractures, sprains, and contusions in the foot. These traumatic incidents can lead to acute pain and, if not treated promptly and properly, can result in chronic pain and long-term complications.

Neurological and Systemic Causes: Foot pain can also be a manifestation of underlying systemic conditions such as diabetes, neuropathy, or circulatory problems. Nerve damage, reduced blood flow, or inflammation can affect the sensory nerves in the feet, leading to sensations of burning, tingling, or numbness, along with pain.


Foot pain can stem from a multitude of causes, encompassing structural issues, footwear choices, overuse and repetitive stress, arthritis, injuries, and underlying systemic conditions. Understanding the specific cause of foot pain is crucial for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Consultation with a medical professional or podiatrist is often necessary to determine the root cause and develop an effective management plan, which may include lifestyle modifications, physical therapy, orthotics, or medication to alleviate pain and improve foot health.

The very first "step" in the treatment of foot pain is to determine the precise cause or causes for any particular patient. Multiple causes are common, for example:

A. Inflammation and swelling from arthritis can cause nerve compression, like tarsal tunnel

B. Hypothyroidism, low thyroid function, can similarly cause impingement of the Tibial Nerve and cause Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

C. Swelling from Plantar Fasciitis can cause impingement of the same Tibial Nerve, causing similar symptoms.

The treatment for each of these (3) situations is entirely different. Precise diagnosis is essential to the success of treatment in each and every patient and in each and every situation. At Stages of Life Medical Institute, we are fully equipped to perform the necessary electrodiagnostic studies that are needed, we are capable of treatment using a variety of traditional medicines as well as utilizing the best of natural or functional medicine approaches. Moreover, we have our own in-house laboratory to use if needed to evaluate for underlying endocrine causes.

Stages of Life Medical Institute

1917 Boothe Circle

Longwood, Florida 32750

T: 407-679-3337

F: 407-678-7246


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