Read below about foot injury, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your foot injury from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Foot Injury Symptoms

The foot is a complex network of bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscle. Though the foot is constructed to withstand hours of weight-bearing, complications in any of its components will result in foot injury symptoms.

Foot injury often results in associated symptoms of:

If you notice any of these foot injury symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor promptly in order to get the appropriate diagnosis and care.

Foot Injury Causes Overview

The feet are divided into three main parts: the forefoot, the midfoot, and the hindfoot. The forefoot is composed of the five toes (phalanges) and the five longer bones (metatarsals); the midfoot is a collection of bones that forms the foot's arches; and the hindfoot is composed of the heel and ankle. Muscles, tendons and ligaments run along the surfaces of these bones, giving the foot everything it needs for motion and balance.

Anything that causes stress, overuse and/or damage to these components can result in foot pain and injury.

Musculoskeletal causes:

  • Fracture: Broken bones in the foot due to falls, direct blows or motor vehicle accidents are an obvious cause for foot injury. However, many people do not realize that overuse and significant stress on the feet can also result in fractures. For example, stress fractures are small cracks in a bone that can occur from activities such as repetitive jumping or long-distance running.
  • Deformity: Bony prominences and abnormal growths of the foot in the form of bunions, calluses and corns can result in injury over time. These conditions can cause severe pain during walking and/or standing. Furthermore, these conditions can grow and put pressure on the nerves and ligaments of the foot, further exacerbating foot injury symptoms.

Inflammatory causes:

  • Arthritis: Arthritis is a general term for multiple conditions that cause painful inflammation and stiffness of the bones and joints. Arthritic processes can affect many parts of the foot and cause irritation that often leads to injury.
  • Infection: The feet and toes are particularly susceptible to infection. Walking around barefoot puts the toes in direct contact with various pathogens; but on the other hand, tight, close-toed shoes create a damp, sweaty environment that also allows bacteria to grow. If bacteria or fungi enter the feet via a cut or other puncture, the resulting infection can spread and cause serious injury to the feet.

Systemic causes:

  • Conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease that cause dysregulation in multiple parts of the body often affect the feet. These systemic conditions often cause lack of blood and oxygen delivery to the feet (peripheral artery disease) or nerve damage leaving the feet with decreased sensation (peripheral neuropathy). People with these conditions do not properly perceive injury. As a result, small insults can quickly worsen and result in serious injury to the foot.

7 Potential Foot Injury Causes

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

  1. 1.Foot Bruise

    A foot contusion (bruise) is the result of physical damage to the veins and capillaries (which help move blood back toward the heart). The blood pools in the damaged area and creates that blue/purple color.

    2-3 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one foot, foot injury, foot pain from an injury, pain when touching the foot, foot bruise
    Symptoms that always occur with foot bruise:
    foot pain from an injury, foot injury
    Symptoms that never occur with foot bruise:
    recent cutting accident
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  2. 2.Foot Sprain

    The bones of the ankle and foot are held together by ligaments, which are bands of tough tissue. A sprain is a type of injury where one or more of the ligaments is stretched too far, causing tiny fibers in the ligaments to tear. In most cases, the ligament does not tear completely.

    An uncomplicated foot sprain should improve in 3-6 weeks.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one foot, foot injury, limping, warm red foot swelling, swelling of one foot
    Symptoms that always occur with foot sprain:
    pain in one foot, foot injury
    Symptoms that never occur with foot sprain:
    recent cutting accident
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  3. 3.Morton Neuroma

    Morton neuroma is nerve damage between the 2nd and 3rd toes, often found in women who run or wear tight high heels.

    Almost all patients do well with conservative (non-surgical) treatment

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    foot numbness, pain in the sole of the foot, pain when touching the foot, pain in both feet, foot injury
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

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  4. 4.Charcot Arthropathy of the Foot

    Charcot Arthropathy of the foot is a syndrome where patients with numbness of their feet, which can be caused by a variety of underlying conditions such as diabetes, develop weakening of the bones in the foot and ankle. Thus they may have fractures and dislocations of the bones and joints that occur with little trauma.

    Healing may require several months.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    joint pain, constant foot swelling, pain in one foot, warm red foot swelling, swelling of both feet
    Symptoms that always occur with charcot arthropathy of the foot:
    warm red foot swelling, constant foot swelling
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Jones Fracture (Broken Foot)

    A Jones Fracture is a fracture of a bone on the outside of the foot (called the fifth metatarsal). A Jones fracture can be either a stress fracture (a tiny hairline break that develops with time), or a sudden break due to trauma. This can result in pain, swelling, and tenderness on the outside of the foot.

    6-8 weeks healing time with cast or splint.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    difficulty walking, constant foot pain, pain in one foot, foot bruise, pain in the front half of the foot
    Symptoms that always occur with jones fracture (broken foot):
    foot pain from an injury, pain when touching the foot, constant foot pain, pain in the front half of the foot, pain in the outside of the foot
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  6. 6.Pes Cavus

    Pes cavus is a high arch of the foot that does not flatten with weight bearing. This foot type can cause pain.

    Without surgical intervention, this condition is permanent.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, foot numbness, high-arched feet, cold feet, leg weakness
    Symptoms that always occur with pes cavus:
    high-arched feet
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Freiberg Disease

    Freiberg Disease is a rare condition caused by the death of a bone in the foot. There is no real explanation as to why it happens, but it may be related to the divide between bone and cartilage in a growing bone.

    4-6 weeks with rest

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in the front half of the foot, spontaneous foot pain, pain when touching the foot, foot injury
    Symptoms that always occur with freiberg disease:
    spontaneous foot pain, pain in the front half of the foot, pain when touching the foot
    Symptoms that never occur with freiberg disease:
    difficulty moving the ankle
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Foot Injury Treatments and Relief

If you suspect that your foot injury is a result of overuse or stress that is causing a sprain or fracture, or foot deformities are causing irritation and pressure, try these strategies at home while you wait to see your healthcare provider.

  • Rest, Ice and Elevate: Put an ice pack on your foot every 15 minutes. Keep your foot elevated and immobile to minimize further exacerbation of the foot injury symptoms.
  • Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes: Tight shoes and high heels can compress and further irritate pre-existing foot deformities such as bunions and calluses. Eliminating friction and pressure on these outgrowths can help make them disappear.

If your symptoms are persistent and not related to a traumatic event, your foot injury is most likely the result of an underlying condition that needs to be treated by a physician.

Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor may suggest the following:

  • Antibiotics: Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics if your foot injury is due to bacterial infection or antifungal medications if due to a fungal infection.
  • Arthritic Medications: There are many different types of medications that combat arthritic conditions that may be causing your foot injury.
  • Surgery: Your doctor may suggest surgical removal of abnormalities such as bunions, calluses, and corns in order to alleviate your foot injury symptoms if lifestyle changes do not work.
  • If your foot injury is due to a systemic condition such as diabetes, your doctor will work to treat the condition as a whole.

Seek medical care immediately if:

  • Any part of your foot appears deformed
  • You cannot bear weight or walk on your foot
  • You notice bruising or tenderness to the touch around the ankle area
  • Persistent swelling and pain
  • The foot becomes numb and turns white or pink.

These foot injury symptoms may be related to a fracture resulting in decreased blood flow to the toes and/or feet.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Foot Injury

  • Q.Are you having any difficulty walking?
  • Q.Have you ever been diagnosed with diabetes?
  • Q.Which of the following describes your physical fitness:
  • Q.Did you just suffer from a cut or wound?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our foot injury symptom checker to find out more.

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Foot Injury Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced foot injury have also experienced:

    • 10% Foot Pain
    • 8% Upper Leg Pain
    • 8% Lower Leg Pain
  • People who have experienced foot injury were most often matched with:

    • 18% Morton Neuroma
    • 16% Foot Sprain
    • 8% Foot Bruise
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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