foot pain


Why do my feet hurt?

Sore Feet is a common complaint with patients often describing symptoms of foot ache and foot pains.  So if you are someone who suffers from problems with your feet and also find that that your feet hurt on a regular basis the following article may be of some help for you.

Causes of Foot pain

Foot pain diagnosis can sometimes be complicated due to the complex anatomy. There are a number of bones that form articulations (joints) within the foot such as the metatarsal bones or tarsal region.  In addition numerous layers of muscles and protective ligaments help provide strength, mobility and control to the foot. All of these structures may give rise to or cause foot pain.  Often feet may hurt when walking as it is usually the mechanical loading that irritates and causes discomfort in the foot. The region of pain is sometimes a good indicator of the possible problem.


Area of symptoms

Lateral Foot Pain

On the outside of the foot lies the 5th Metatarsal and cuboid bone as well as numerous muscular tendons. An injury to the joints or bones may give rise to pain on the outside of the foot through sport related trauma or following excessive loading such as with long distance runners. Similarly the repeated loading that occurs with endurance activity may also aggravate the tendons of the foot and therefore result in an aching foot.  Tendon related problems are far more common than bony injury and both may result in outside foot pain.

Pain in the Soles of the Feet

Pain under foot is a common complaint which may result from excessive standing and walking. A long day shopping or sightseeing could be a simple trigger for such discomfort.  Usually such pain resolves with a quick rest but unfortunately sometimes the pain does not resolve.

The Plantarfascia is strong ligament that is often indicated in pain under the foot due to the way it is stretched as we walk. The ligament if injured or irritated may become more painful on initial weight bearing for example when rising in the morning or standing after a period of sitting.   A patient may describe pain in the heel and arch of the foot.

Balls of the Feet Hurt

Discomfort in this region is often referred to as metatarsal foot pain or metatarsalgia due to the heads of the metatarsal bones being located in this area.  Although the pain is felt locally there are a number of possible causes of such symptoms. Physiotherapists are experts in the examining foot and ankle problems and therefore are usually best placed to assess such problems.

Dorsal Foot Pain

Refers to discomfort on the top of the foot or upper foot. Again a variety of joints and muscles in this region may give rise to pain and therefore examination by an expert is key but commonly nerve injury can lead to symptoms in this region.


Other Causes of foot pain

Foot Nerve Pain

A nerve can sometimes become sensitive, irritated or compressed in the region around or below the ankle leading to sharp, shooting or burning pain in the feet. The symptoms can be felt in any area of the foot that the nerve passes. Interestingly pain can be perceived in the foot from a nerve that is irritated above the ankle even as high as the back.

Flat Feet Problems

Having flat feet doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have problems or experience flat feet pain. So it would be incorrect to treat an individual for flat feet alone without pain. An orthotic or support for the arch of the foot may only be necessary if you have foot pains.

Gout and Diabetes Foot pain

There are number of inflammatory conditions that can affect the foot but elevated uric acid levels in the blood can lead to gout foot pain usually in the big toe joint. A doctor should be able to assess for this through a simple blood test.

Diabetes can also lead to a painful foot as it may affect both the circulation and nerves. Poor circulation may lead to numbness and damage to the nerves which may result in neuropathy. However diabetes that is well controlled is unlikely to produce such symptoms.


What to look out for

Painful Feet At Night

Pain in feet at night is unusual and if persists should be assessed by a specialist, either a doctor or by a physiotherapist. Inflammatory conditions can lead to pain at night but your specialist should be able to direct you appropriately for treatment.

Severe Foot Pain

If sudden and severe pain starts in the foot this could be due to nerve pain, bony injury or other pathology. This should be assessed by a medical professional without delay so as to ascertain a correct diagnosis.



The good news is the majority pains in the feet have an obvious mechanical cause and can usually effectively be treated by a trained professional. Our team at Kensington Physiotherapy are all highly qualified physiotherapists who in the majority of cases will be able to resolve your pain with treatment and exercise. You can contact a member team or book  in for an assessment either by emailing or phoning 0207 603 0040.