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Foot Pain Diagnosis

Foot Pain Diagnosis

Foot pain or discomfort could be a sign of underlying conditions or diseases. Foot pain diagnosis may require the administration of different tests and examinations. Identifying the sensations associated with the foot pain and the specific area of the foot that is uncomfortable may be helpful in foot pain diagnosis.

Foot Pain Diagnostic Procedure

When a patient complains of foot pain, a physician will typically do a physical examination and ask a number of questions in order to diagnose the cause of the pain. During the examination, the physician will pay attention to the patient’s posture, how the patient walks, and how the patient favors the wounded area. The physician will typically examine the foot while at rest and while in motion, to notate the difference in pain and other symptoms. All of these considerations may be important in foot pain diagnosis. Questions that a physician may ask to assist with foot pain diagnosis include:
  • Is there numbness in the toes or other areas of the foot?
  • Is the pain more severe at certain times of day?
  • Exactly what part of the foot hurts?
  • Did the pain come on suddenly or over time?
  • Is the pain always in the same place, or does it move?
  • Does anything ease or worsen the pain?
  • Are there other symptoms in addition to pain, such as swelling or redness?

Foot Pain Tests

After a physical examination has been done, a physician may use diagnostic tests to diagnose the cause and type of foot pain. Nerve tests may indicate or rule out nerve damage as a cause of foot pain. X-rays or bone scans may be done to assess broken bones or bone conditions as a cause of foot pain. MRIs may be done to test for damage or conditions within soft tissue that may be a cause of foot pain.  Many times these diagnostic testing are only needed to rule out serious pathology or when conservative treatment, like physical therapy, has failed.

Causes of Foot Pain

Man applying pressure to bottom of footThe most common cause of foot pain is plantar fasciitis. This is an inflammation of the ligament that supports the arch of the foot. Plantar fasciitis will cause pain in the heel which progresses with activity, which can be helpful in diagnosis as it differs from symptoms of most other foot conditions which may cause pain.       Other causes of foot pain and common indicative symptoms include:
  • Arthritis will often cause stiffness in addition to pain
  • Gout will typically affect the joints, especially the big toe joints and the ankles
  • Ingrown toenails most commonly affect the big toe and will be painful at the nail
  • Hammer toe is a toe that points downward instead of straight, usually the second or third toe
  • Bunions appear as bumps on the side of the big toe
  • Sprains or fractures come on suddenly with trauma and can affect any area of the foot
  • Strain from overuse or overextension can come on over time or can be the result of trauma
    Sources: “Foot Pain.” Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 26 Feb 2014. Web. 14 Mar 2014. <>. “What is Foot Pain?.” Healthline. Healthline Networks, n.d. Web. 14 Mar 2014. <>.