Where Does it Hurt?

Toe, Foot, and Ankle

Pains in the toes, feet and ankles can arise from a variety of causes, ranging from wearing high-heeled shoes and overuse to sudden injury, or a serious medical condition. Foot, ankle and toe pain often occurs in conjunction with conditions that affect other parts of the body. Pain in these areas can interfere greatly with your daily life, making it difficult to move, walk, climb stairs, sleep, work, or enjoy hobbies and recreation. Shasta Orthopaedics can help with your toe, foot and ankle problems and get you moving around again.

Common Toe, Foot, and Ankle Problems

Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Sudden pain and swelling in the toe
  • Increased heat in the affected area
  • Redness
  • Extreme tenderness in the toe
  • May also cause chills and fever
  • In some cases painless bumps that can be felt under the skin

Gout is an inflammatory joint disease that causes sudden and severe pain and swelling in the toe or foot, and symptoms similar to those associated with an infection. Most commonly affecting the joint of the big toe, this condition is a form of arthritis that develops when uric acid crystals form in and around the joints. Gout can also affect other joints throughout the body, particularly the feet, ankles, knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows. The development of gout is associated with family history, being overweight, eating meats and seafood, taking certain medications, and drinking too much alcohol. It is important to treat gout promptly, as the condition can cause severe damage to the joints and tendons.

Toe Joint Deformities
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Toes that are misshapen or unsightly
  • Toes that swell or have odd bumps
  • Pain in the affected toes
  • Discomfort, particularly while walking
  • Restricted movement

Common toe joint deformities vary in severity and symptoms. Bunions and bunionettes describe bumps on the toes, while conditions including hammer toes, mallet toes, and claw toes involves the muscles that control toe movement. These muscles go out of balance, causing the toes to bend in odd positions at the joints. These conditions are commonly caused by improperly fitting shoes.

Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain in the toes, feet, or ankles, especially with motion or pressure
  • Swelling in the affected areas
  • Redness and warmth

Bursae are fluid filled sacs that create a cushion between the bones, ligaments, tendons, muscle, and skin. Bursitis describes a condition in which one or more of these sacs become inflamed. This condition is commonly caused by repeated movement or prolonged pressure on the affected area. Bursitis can be caused by overuse, injury, or conditions like arthritis or infection.

Retrocalcaneal Bursitis
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain in the back of the foot, especially with motion or pressure
  • Swelling in the back of the foot
  • Redness and warmth

Retrocalcaneal bursitis is a form of bursitis in which the small fluid-filled sac (bursa) between the back of the heel bone and the Achilles tendon become inflamed. This condition develops slowly, usually as a result of pressure caused by the back of a shoe associated with strenuous activity like uphill running.

Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Painful, swollen or stiff joints in the toes, feet, or ankles
  • Symptoms commonly affect the same joints on both sides of the body
  • Stiffness in the morning or after period of inactivity
  • Appearance of bumps on the toes, feet, or ankles
  • Fatigue
  • General ill feeling
  • Mild fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition in which the tissue lining, or membranes, of the joints become inflamed. It is important to seek medical treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, as the condition may destroy the joint tissues, causing permanent disability.

Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain in the joints of the toes, feet, or ankles
  • Stiffness after periods of inactivity
  • Limited motion of the toes, feet, or ankles
  • Tenderness and occasional swelling in or around the joints
  • Enlarged joints
  • Sensation of grinding associated with movement and pain

Osteoarthritis is a condition in which the cartilage that protects and cushions the joints breaks down over time, causing bones to rub together and cause damage. Osteoarthritis can affect various parts of the body in addition to the feet, toes, or ankles, including the spine, fingers, thumbs, hips, knees, or elbows.

Plantar Fasciitis
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Sharp pain on the bottom of your heel
  • Pain that occurs when you get up in the morning
  • Pain also may occur when you stand after a long period of sitting

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the long, flat ligament on the bottom of the foot develops small tears and becomes inflamed. This condition occurs when the ligament stretches irregularly, usually the result of constant stress on the foot. This stress is most commonly associated with normal wear and tear, overuse, being overweight, tight calf muscles, or other foot conditions.

Achilles Tendinopathy
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain in the back of the heel
  • Tenderness
  • Decreased strength
  • Decreased movement
  • Symptoms can also affect the lower leg

Tendons are the tough, rope-like fibers that connect your muscles to your bones. Achilles tendinopathy describes tendon injury to the Achilles tendon. This condition is caused by overuse, repeated activity, wear and tear, or aging. This condition most commonly involves tendonosis, which describes tiny tears that occur in the connective tissue in or around the tendon. Achilles tendinopathy causes the tendon to weaken, making it more likely to tear or rupture.

Stress Fracture
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain that is worse before or after exercise
  • Persistent pain in a particular spot
  • Pain may improve temporarily during exercise
  • Pain that increases after each exercise session

A stress fracture is a hairline crack in a bone that may not be visible in an X-ray. Stress fractures commonly occur as a result of repeated impact on a weight bearing bone. This condition is usually caused by intensive sports training.

Heel Spurs
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain in the bottom of the heel
  • Tenderness
  • Sometimes a bump can be felt beneath the skin

A heel spur is a small bony growth under your heel bone. This condition can develop when the ligaments in the foot become inflamed.

Morton's Neuroma
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain between the toes
  • Numbness
  • Cramping of the toes
  • A burning sensation in the foot that spreads into the toes
  • Lumps between the bases of the toes

Morton's neuroma is a condition in which a growth develops on a nerve at the base of the toes. Growths develop as a result of a nerve becoming pinched between the joints of the toes, knuckles, and shoe. Consistent pressure and irritation cause the nerve to swell and grow.

Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Pain that shoots down the leg into the foot from the hip or lower back
  • Weakness in the leg and foot
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Pain may increase with prolonged sitting, standing, or movement
  • Strain or heavy lifting may also intensify symptoms

Sciatica describes pain resulting from irritation or pressure against the nerve roots of the sciatic nerve, which originates in the spinal cord and extends into the lower back, hips, buttocks, legs, ankles and feet. A ruptured spinal disc that pushes against the sciatic nerve commonly causes this condition. Sciatica can also result from pregnancy, bone spurs, injury, compressed nerve roots, and tumors.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?
  • Foot pain
  • Weakness in the foot
  • Numbness
  • Tingling in the sole or arch of the foot

Tarsal tunnel syndrome occurs when a nerve is pinched in the inner ankle. This area is complex, composed of a mix of muscles, nerves, muscles, and ligaments. The tibial nerve runs down the leg to the inner ankle, and is particularly vulnerable to pinching. This condition can result from an injury, rolling the foot inward, a tissue mass or cyst, or inflammation.

It is very important to seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing symptoms in your feet, toes or ankles.

Symptoms in your this area can indicate serious medical conditions that require immediate medical attention, including infection, blood flow problems, vascular disease, blood clots, and diabetes.

Seek emergency medical care immediately if you have been injured or if your symptoms are severe. In the context of all toe, foot and ankle problems, early diagnosis and treatment are necessary to prevent further damage and complications.

Once emergency care has been administered, orthopaedic medicine may be able to help immensely with pain symptoms that can arise from a variety of conditions, or linger long after an injury.