There are a number of structures the create the structure of the foot and that can subsequently cause pain. To identify which one is affecting you there are a few questions that we need to ask:

(click on the individual terms or the items on the right for more information)

1: Where is the pain?

Pin- point pain over bone will be considered a form of fracture, stress fracture or bone stress reaction unless proven otherwise. Bony pain or pain between the bones in the middle of the foot can be a Lisfranc injury. Pain into the arch of the foot or heel bone at the bottom of the foot is a common problem: plantar fasciitis but more specific symptoms into the fleshy bit at the ball of your foot may be a sesamoid injury. Other injuries affecting and causing pain around the big toe joint include hallux rigidus and hallux valgus/bunion formation. Non-specific pain that is difficult to localize can be referred from other sources e.g. the back or knee or from general joint pathologies such as osteoarthritis.

Plantar fasciitis
Lisfranc injury
Sesamoid injury/ Sesamoditis
Hallux Rigidus

2: How and when did the pain start?

Did you suffer a trauma to the foot i.e. a fall, tackle or sudden twist or hit? Ligament or bony damage may have occurred (Lisfranc injury or fractures). If the injury is more gradual in onset this is often related to overuse or overload and can cause stress fractures and soft tissue stresses such as plantar fasciitis. Changes in joint structure or position as in the case of the big toe can account for pain from hallux rigidus or bunion formation.

Hallux Valgus/ Bunion formation
Stress fractures
Morton's Neuroma

3: What type of pain are you getting?

Sharp, stabbing pain is more frequently described with traumas to the affected joint, ligaments or bones. A dull, tooth ache or throbbing pain in a very general sense is attributed to overuse injuries effecting tendons or soft tissues. Pins and needles, zinging or numbness are signs of nerve irritation and this can be a problem locally between the toes as in the case of Morton’s Neuroma or from a different source e.g. the lower back.