man experiencing a type of foot pain

“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.” – Leonardo da Vinci

While we would wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment, we also know that, too often, foot pain of different types can mar that masterpiece.

For most humans, the simple act of locomotion, that is, getting from one place to another, is so fundamental an action as to be completely unconscious and instinctive.

Until it hurts to do so.

Common Types of Foot Pain

Common types of foot pain present themselves in several ways and are rooted in various and sometimes surprising causes. For example, something seemingly minor such as an ingrown nail or stubbing your toe can be painful enough to be crippling. 

While there are several common types of foot pain and some are mild and temporary, other types of foot pain can be both long-lasting and debilitating.

Foot pain can not only hamper your mobility, but it can also affect your mood and impact your quality of life. If you are suffering from chronic foot pain, finding effective treatment can be paramount.

While the human foot is a complex and unique structure composed of more than 26 bones with 33 joints and over 34 muscles, there are roughly four main types of foot pain:

Check out our free resource, Understanding Foot Pain.

Pain in the top of the foot

This type of foot pain is often associated with the following conditions:

  • Extensor tendonitis, in which the tendons that run along the top of the foot and pull the foot upwards become inflamed and painful. This can result from overuse or tight-fitting shoes.
  • Stress fractures in the metatarsal bones, which are in the top of the feet. This will likely include swelling as a symptom.

Pain in the arch

In addition to plantar fasciitis, other causes of arch pain include:

  • Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, or PTTD, which is also known as adult-acquired flatfoot. This occurs from an injury or inflammation to the posterior tibial tendon, which connects the inner foot to a muscle in the calf, and the tendon is no longer able to support the arch.
  • Overpronation, where the outer edge of the heel hits the ground first when walking, and the foot then rolls inward onto the arch. This overly flattens the foot and can, over time, damage muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and lead to arch pain.

Pain in the ball of the foot

The medical term for this metatarsalgia, a general term for a symptom that can have many possible causes. Metatarsalgia can cause pain and inflammation in the padding directly below the toes, which is where the most pressure is exerted when standing and moving.

According to Health Line, the most common causes for metatarsalgia are:

  • intense physical activity
  • having a high arch or a second toe longer than the big toe
  • stress fractures
  • wearing high heels or shoes that are too small
  • hammer toe and bunions
  • being overweight
  • metatarsal joint pain or arthritis

Pain in the heel of the foot

At Pain and Performance Solutions, the most common area of foot pain we see is right under the calcaneus (heel) at the origin of the plantar fascia. And the most common diagnosis for this is plantar fasciitis.

The plantar fascia is a thick ligament supporting the arch of your foot and absorbs shock when you walk. If tension and stress on this structure become too great, small tears can occur in the fascia, and repeated stretching and tearing can irritate or inflame the fascia, which is what we know as plantar fasciitis.

The two most common causes for this type of foot pain are a history of previous ankle sprain or foot injury and a history of low back pain.

As Pain and Performance Solutions founder Julian Corwin has pointed out, 

“The foot evolved to encounter a multitude of surfaces and shapes, as varied as it is in nature. In the absence of that stimulation most feet have grown weak and unable to compensate for the various difficulties encountered in life. After pain is reduced, restoring full strength and function to the foot should be a top priority.”

Treating Foot Pain at Pain and Performance Solutions

According to Julian, the most effective technique or therapy for most common foot pain issues is a combination of Active Release Techniques® and Anatomy in Motion, or AiM.

The philosophy of Anatomy in Motion is founded on principles of movement that are influenced by our most primal, repetitive, and fundamental movement as humans, and that is our gait, or simply walking.

Essentially, AiM is a movement-based therapeutic approach to healing. It accomplishes this task by helping your body find its own optimal alignment to allow for smooth and unrestricted movement.

A holistic approach, AiM is based on the premise that everything in the human body is connected and interdependent. Consequently, if there is an imbalance or misalignment in one area of your body, it will affect your entire organism.

In addition, we utilize Active Release Techniques®, or ART® therapy that has been an effective tool for patients recovering from different foot pain issues such as plantar fasciitis, for example. The use of manual, “hands-on” therapy combined with a corrective exercise plan allows us to help you restore your normal foot mechanics. It is this type of focused correction that can help prevent the plantar fascia from experiencing further excess force and stress.

If you are suffering chronic foot pain, make an appointment to see us for an evaluation. This is the first step to recovery, determining the actual cause of your foot pain. And, ultimately, the goal is recovery, feeling well, and getting back to your usual activities.

Pain and Performance Solutions – Our Name is Our Mission

At your first appointment, we will learn about your present pain as well as any history of discomfort. This is because treating and relieving your foot pain starts when we understand where and how your pain started.

A full examination will help us determine which form of treatment technique and therapy will be best suited to get you on your road to recovery. Because our bodies will compensate for pain to allow us to function during our day, the pain can shift around and lead to other forms of pain.

Ultimately, getting your body healthy and working properly is the only way to achieve total recovery. In the process, your trust in us is key, as is your honesty. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any questions that you may have.

Our goal is to work through the sequence of pain and dysfunction in order to get your body healthy and working properly and to achieve total recovery. Don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any questions that you may have. We can be reached at (707) 636-4404 or by filling out our online contact form.