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Foot Pain

November 24, 2020

We're sorry to hear you have foot pain!

Please keep in mind that this guide is not intended to replace a face-to-face evaluation with your doctor. The goal of this guide is to provide information while awaiting evaluation with your doctor or additional information after you have seen him or her.

Foot pain may develop for a number of reasons -- fracture and infection are among the most serious while sprains and arthritis are among the most common. There are rare causes of symptoms that will not be included here and would require more detailed evaluation than this guide can provide.

Severe pain, swelling, bruising, or inability to bear weight are "alert" symptoms that could indicate serious injury to a bone or ligaments. When accompanied by fever, an infection becomes a major concern. However, most people with foot pain have no serious or dangerous cause. In fact, many have pain due to poorly fitting or tight shoes; for women, high heels only make a tight shoe more uncomfortable. Try changing your footwear to something with more cushion, support and room for your feet -- and read on to learn more about the causes of foot pain.

Certain symptoms suggest a serious cause of foot pain that requires prompt attention. It's important to ask questions about these symptoms first.

Did your pain begin after a significant injury, such as a fall or car accident?

Yes, my pain began just after a significant injury.

No, my pain did not occur after a severe blow or injury.

Along with foot pain, have you noticed swelling or redness in your foot (or feet)?

Yes, I have noticed swelling and/or redness.

No, I have no swelling or redness, thank goodness!

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As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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