Foot and Leg Pain | Orthopaedics | Loyola Medicine

Heel, Arch, Toe, Ankle and Shin Pain

Overview and Facts about Heel, Arch, Toe, Ankle and Shin Pain

Foot and leg pain can have many causes, including an injury or overuse. More rarely, foot or leg pain may occur due to a congenital disorder or chronic orthopedic condition.

An injury or illness affecting one part of the foot can cause pain throughout the foot and into the ankle or leg. Arch pain, for example, may spread to the ball of the foot and the heel. If your foot pain changes the way you walk or stand, the pain can also spread into your ankles, knees, hips, and back.

Signs and Symptoms of Heel, Arch, Toe, Ankle and Shin Pain

An injury or disorder affecting your feet or legs can cause pain in any part of the foot, including:

  • The arch
  • The heel
  • The ball of the foot
  • The toes
  • The ankles

Related symptoms can include:

  • Joint stiffness
  • Swollen feet or ankles
  • Weakness or numbness in the feet
  • Difficulty standing or walking
  • Pain in the shins or upper legs

Your symptoms may be worse after standing or walking for long periods of time. Symptoms may also worsen when participating in strenuous physical activities.

Causes and Risk Factors of Heel, Arch, Toe, Ankle and Shin Pain

Foot and leg pain can result from a wide range of medical conditions. Many people experience foot pain due to an injury, like a fracture, sprain or strain. Athletes may be more likely to experience foot pain due to overuse or a sports injury.

Other common medical conditions that may cause foot pain include:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Flatfeet
  • Overpronation
  • Cavus foot
  • Tendinitis
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Arthritis

People whose job requires them to spend many hours on their feet may be more likely to develop foot and leg pain. Your risk of developing foot and leg pain may also increase with age.

Tests and Diagnosis of Heel, Arch, Toe, Ankle and Shin Pain

If you experience foot or leg pain, your doctor will first examine your feet or legs for signs of injury or swelling. Your doctor may also ask questions about your lifestyle, occupation and any recent injuries.

During the exam, your doctor might perform tests to check your reflexes, muscle strength and sensitivity to stimuli in your feet or legs. Imaging tests, like an X-ray or MRI, may also be ordered to check for damage to the bones or muscles in your feet or legs.

In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a podiatrist, which is a doctor that specializes in foot treatment.

Treatment and Care for Heel, Arch, Toe, Ankle and Shin Pain

Treatment for foot or leg pain depends on its cause. If you have an underlying condition, like diabetes or arthritis, your doctor will need to treat that to resolve your symptoms.

Pain caused by an injury may be treated with rest, ice or over-the-counter pain relievers. Minor injuries, like muscle strains, often heal on their own, while more severe injuries may require a cast or surgery.

Physical therapy can help treat many causes of foot or leg pain. A physical therapist can guide you through exercises that increase muscle strength, improve your balance and correct problems with your posture or gait.