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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Why does the bottom of my foot hurt?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25804 points ) October 20th, 2012

I enjoy power walking as exercise. I’ve done it semi-regularly for decades.

I took some time off recently, and since I restarted, the bottom of my right foot has become sore around the arch. I wear good shoes.

I’ve had to stop the exercise altogether due to the pain. It’s very sensitive to touch, and it almost has a burning sensation.

Can anyone give me a clue what this could be so that I know what to tell my doctor when I call him?

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17 Answers

Jenniehowell's avatar

it’s hard to tell – Your question throws me off a little because generally you would go to the doctor and tell him the full description of the symptoms and he would work through the potential diagnosis that could be the situation as opposed to you getting guesses as to the diagnosis & taking those to him rather than the symptoms. When you call your doctor/visit him I’d recommend that you simply give him the symptoms rather than your guess at a diagnosis & leave the diagnosing to him.

RE the diagnosis: It could be a long list of things. peripheral neuropathy; plantar fasciitis; diabetes (which can cause peripheral neuropathy). Those are just a few.

JLeslie's avatar

My top guess is plantars fasciitis. Although, burning does sound like it could be nerve endings. Do you have any lower back pain? Do you ever get herpes/shingles?

The other thing to look out for is if muscles in other parts of your body begin to hurt after using them. See if it is really something with your foot, or actually a whole body thing. You may not notice it in your body if you don’t do sustained physical activity with the other muscles usually.

Most people I know with plantars fasciitis had to go through time where they let their foot competely rest (most were runners, so they stopped running and jogging for a while. They hated having to stop) and get better arch support in their shoes. Most were able to get better and following feeling better went back to a more limited schedule of running, and continued to be fine.

Blood tests to run in my opinion are vitamin D, thyroid and maybe iron if you go to the doctor. Vitamin D has made a huge difference in my muscle pain and cramping. It could contribute to your problem. Do you protect yourself from the sun?

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and have very little experience and knowledge of plantars facciitis, but I have a lot of experience with muscle pain, cramping and weakness.

Shippy's avatar

I agree with @JLeslie I used to get that from driving.

rooeytoo's avatar

Burning sensation or hot water feeling usually is tendonitis. Rest, ice it, ben-gay, or those patches from the Chinese grocery store, they always work for me!

hearkat's avatar

I have plantar fasciitis which has led to heel spurs, and what you are describing sounds similar to some of the symptoms I experience. In my case, it is chronic and bilateral, resulting from what appears to be early stage rheumatoid arthritis (bloodwork shows some elevated levels, but more specific testing is inconclusive), and is aggravated by my weight. I was also found to have low Vitamin D.

You can see a podiatrist or an orthopedist (sports medicine specialist might be best, since it seems related to your power walking), and they may want to do X-rays. There are other things that could cause similar symptoms, though; so it is best to describe your symptoms in as much detail as possible. One classic symptom of PF is that it tends to hurt worst in the morning, because that fascia stiffens up overnight.

If it is PF, resting the foot to allow it to heal, and performing specific stretches are the typical treatment. Getting better cushioning in your footwear is the best way to prevent it from re-occurring… “good shoes” is a completely relative term that is not determined by brand or price tag. There are devices to wear at night to keep the PF stretched that are also helpful.

In my research and experience, it seems that there is great variability in the causes and the effectiveness of different treatments, so there is a bit of trial-and-error in finding what will work best for your body. I hope you feel better soon!

gailcalled's avatar

FWIW, a cheap experiment is to put heel cups in your sneakers. They are the go-to miracle solution for plantar fascists and possible bone spurs (and can do no harm if there are other issues, which there well may be). Heel cups

I would start with the premise that it’s a horse and not a zebra. Don’t start taking supplements or asking for thyroid, D and iron tests just yet.

As @Jenniehowell sagely suggests, go to the doctor’s with a description rather than a possible diagnosis. Let him examine you and make the decision as to where to go next.

The other sad truth is that the fat pads on the bottom of the feet melt away as we age (possibly to migrate to under our chins) and leave the soles more sensitive.

I now buy Dr. Scholl’s innersoles with gel pads and also use the heel cups. I throw away the orthotics that come with my walking shoes (Merrill and Saucony) and replace them with these. I trim them to size and let Milo play with the trimmings.

FootSmart is a very useful catalog. However, you seem some idea of your problem before you get seduced and order by-guess-and-by-golly.

hearkat's avatar

@gailcalled- the Dr. Scholls link takes me to the heel cup page.

I am in the midst of trying nearly every heal, arch, and combo cushion there is, and have yet to find a truly effective model for my feet. I read reviews on them all and some people claim they are miraculous, while others say they didn’t work. That’s why I mentioned the trial-and-error factor in finding the rights shoes and/or inserts/cushions that work for the individual.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, I agree with @ the above sharings. Maybe some padded insoles for extra support.
You’ve come up lame. Perhaps you had a stone in your shoe. lol
If you’d like to drop over I have lots of liniments and wraps handy being in the horsey zone. I think a nice rub down, a supportive wrap and stall rest is in order.
After a few weeks you can probably be trotted out again without worry but only light riding for at least 8 more weeks. ;-p

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Thank you, all.

Jeruba's avatar

Is there any swelling? specifically, around the arch?

Is the pain at the peak of the arch?

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Jeruba, there’s no swelling, and yes, the pain is at the peak of the arch.

Jeruba's avatar

Pain at the peak of the arch: exactly like my stress fracture of the navicular, the little bone that’s at the apex of the arch. It doesn’t look very important until you crack it.

Lack of swelling: not like my injury. My foot swelled so much that I couldn’t fasten my shoes.

My doctor told me that it’s commonly an athletic injury, frequently seen in people who have recently begun running, are training for a marathon, have started basic training, etc. Mine came on when I’d been doing yoga for 4 months after quite a long stretch of low activity.

I first had an incorrect diagnosis from a podiatrist before an orthopedist got it right. He never could see the fracture, but he could see the bone-healing activity around it.

But I agree firmly with those above who said go to your doctor with a description and not a diagnosis. And if you go sooner than I did—it took me 4 weeks to admit it was getting worse—maybe you’ll be in time for effective treatment. In my case, nearly 3 years later, I’m pretty much stuck with lameness unless I choose surgery, which could do more harm than good.

gondwanalon's avatar

If you have been power walking for a long time, then the arch of your foot may be slightly collapsing. This has happened to me from many years of long distance running. I’ve been to see several foot doctors and chiropractors that offered me expensive special insoles for my shoes that didn’t help. However I have found great relief from a product called “Walk-fit”. I saw it on a T.V. infomercial and I thought what the heck, I’ll try it. Now I wear them all the time at home and at work, cycling, jogging, and I even jog marathons with them. You can get them Here for $8.48 and free shipping.

Good luck and happy power-walking!

glacial's avatar

Regarding plantar fasciitis, do you experience the pain mainly after long periods being off your feet, like first thing in the morning? If not, I suspect that’s not what you have.

Jeruba's avatar

I’ve also had plantar fasciitis. In my case it was in one heel only (not the arch or anywhere near it), and it felt horribly bruised. Walking for more than a few minutes caused waves of pain in the heel every time I put my foot down.

It took me too long (as usual) to get to the doctor. He told me to replace my insoles with cushioned liners, and he also gave me pain pills (Vioxx!). After about a year, I quit the pain pills and found that the condition had gone away.

A friend told me that she has had flare-ups of plantar fasciitis come and go over the years. So far I’ve had only the one, but it bothered me for a long time before it cleared up.

I do have considerable bone spurs in both heels, detected only by x-ray during diagnosis of the navicular fracture.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@glacial, the pain is constant, although I have to say it has improved as I’ve rested from exercise.

I’ll be calling my doctor in the morning. Again, thank you, all.

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