Common Foot Pain and Early Warning Signs

Given their role in weight-bearing and mobility, the feet are susceptible to a wide variety of stresses. A large number of injuries and conditions can affect any of the 28 bones, 19 muscles, 33 joints, and 107 ligaments that make up the foot’s structure. Read on to learn about some of the most common causes of foot pain and ankle, along with some early warning signs.

Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which connects the rear leg muscles to
the heel bone. The primary symptoms are tenderness to touch and burning pain over the area,
particularly with activity. Pain typically occurs in the morning upon arising or after prolonged sitting.
You may also experience warmth, swelling, and stiffness. The condition can arise secondary to
physical deformities, such as flat feet or leg length discrepancies. Other causes include:

  • Increased physical activity.
  • Ill-fitting footwear, especially when wearing low or zero-heel drop athletic shoes.
  • Tight calves.

Achilles tendonitis can be treated with stretching, heel cups, high-heeled shoes, natural anti-
inflammatory injections, rest, ice, and limitation of impact exercises, which should resolve the issue in a
matter of 2-3 weeks. Additional treatment options include various forms of massage and physical
therapy, and night splints. In some cases, if the condition goes untreated or excessive activity is continued the fibers of the tendon can weaken and possibly lead to a rupture. It is very important to
treat this condition swiftly and completely.


A bunion is a bony protrusion that develops around the joint of the first toe, Also known as hallux
valgus, a bunion occurs when the toe becomes displaced, often this occurs slowly over time
although children can develop them as well, Shoes can irritate an existing bunion but are typically
not the cause of this condition, but rather a foot that is unstable and rolls inward or “prontates” which
unlocks the first metatarsal in which allows the muscles to pull the toe out of its normal position. This
displacement forces the toe to shift toward the 2 nd toe and the first metatarsal head starts to protrude
and looks like a large bump. The bump can get inflamed from tight shoe gear and a “bursa” can form
over the bump. The telltale symptoms of a bunion are:

  • A visible bulging bump at the base of your big toe.
  • Occasionally the toe range of motion may be limited.
  • Swelling and redness around the affected area.
  • Soreness and pain over the area.
  • Calluses where your big toe rubs against your second toe.

You can often treat bunions with better-fitting footwear, special gel padding, and orthotic devices to stop
the progression and place the foot in a better-functioning position. Severe cases, however, may
require surgical intervention. Come see us today to discuss conservative treatments and if those
can relieve your bunion pain we will fully evaluate your foot with X-rays and our Podiatric exam and
we can determine if surgery is right for you if the conservative treatments have not helped.


A corn is a type of callus that develops on the foot, often as the result of pressure or friction caused
by ill-fitting footwear or other friction issues from work or athletic activity. They usually arise on the
sides and bottoms of the foot, between the toes, and commonly anywhere a toe is out of alignment
and rubbing on the shoe. Corns can vary in size, appearance, and texture, though they all generally
appear as a patch of dead, rough skin with a visibly packed center. Like ordinary calluses, they can
be painful and tender to the touch especially if they are rubbing on the shoes. Several home and
over-the-counter remedies can successfully treat corn, such as:

  • Wider or deeper shoes to prevent rubbing
  • Corn pads and get sleeves.
  • Filing and shaving the tissue down at the Podiatry office.

Come see us today at Gurnee Podiatry and Sports medicine if home treatments are unsuccessful.
Our Podiatrist will evaluate your foot and trim the skin and dispense padding and other suggestions.


A fracture is a break in a bone. There are different types of fractures: “traumatic” which comes from
a fall, twist, or something falling on the foot, or “overuse” called a stress fracture which comes slowly
from low-grade repetitive activities like running, they feel and look different on X-ray and Foot or toe
fractures often present with:

  • Pain over the fracture.
  • Tenderness.
  • Increased pain with activity or when bearing weight.
  • Swelling (there will be less swelling with a stress fracture).
  • Bruising (not typically seen with stress fractures).

They can, however, vary widely in severity. Fractures in the toes may not warrant a doctor’s visit and
normally improve with conservative treatments such as tape immobilization and watching shoe
gear and limiting activity for a few weeks, But other fractures require medical intervention and may
lead to deformity if not properly treated with appropriate care, immobilization, and other treatments,
other severe fractures may not have the ability to heal properly with surgical intervention to stabilize
the bone fragments.

Hammer Toe’s

A hammer toe is a deformity in which the middle joint of your toe bends upward while the end angles downward. As a result, your toe no longer lies flat but instead resembles a hammer. The deformity typically affects the second, third, and fourth toes. The primary cause is an imbalance in the soft tissues of the affected toes. Additional factors that can facilitate or exacerbate the condition include:

  • Acute toe injury.
  • Certain types of Arthritis.
  • Diabetes.
  • Heredity.
  • Tight-fitting or pointed footwear.

The symptoms of hammer toes are pain, tenderness, redness, swelling, and stiffness around the
affected area. You may also experience pain at the ball of your foot, under the area of the affected
digit. Better-fitting footwear and home exercises can improve symptoms. If your symptoms are
severe or don’t improve with conservative treatment options, the podiatrist may recommend some
conservative treatments or if those don’t relieve the condition they may recommend surgical

Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s neuroma is a nerve condition that most often occurs between the third and fourth toes. Or
can occur in between the 2nd and 3rd toes, due to squeezing of the metatarsals together that pinches
on the nerve that travels to the end of the toe. It causes a thickening of the tissue around the nerves,
which results in burning pain at the ball of the foot, as well as numbness and tingling in the toes.
Wearing particular footwear, such as high heels, may contribute to the disease. Treatment from a Podiatrist can include injections, padding to offload the metatarsals, and less-restrictive footwear to
alleviate symptoms.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. Individuals tend to experience stabbing
pain along the arch and at the heel bone. There are several risk factors associated with plantar
fasciitis, including:

  • Walking barefoot.
  • Flat feet.
  • Pronated feet.
  • Recently increasing body weight.
  • Occupations that require long periods of standing.
  • Weak muscles of the foot.

See a podiatrist if you suspect you have plantar fasciitis. Steroid injections and other conservative measures may relieve symptoms. Other treatments can include massage, other therapy treatments,
a night splint, and rarely is surgery ever needed.

Foot Products

Early Warning Signs of Foot Pain

Though many common foot pains are treatable with at-home conservative measures, it’s advisable to seek Podiatric medical treatment if you experience any of these early warning signs:

  • Severe pain and/or swelling.
  • Inability to bear weight on the foot.
  • An open or purulent wound.
  • A history of diabetes.
  • Signs of infection, such as warmth, redness, and tenderness around the affected area or a high fever.
  • Symptoms that don’t improve.

If you’re concerned about any acute or chronic pain in your feet, get in touch with us today. With decades of experience, Dr. Lisa M. Schoene and Dr. Bruce Bever are foremost specialists in the field of podiatry and can treat a wide range of foot, ankle, and lower extremity conditions. Fill out our contact form with your name, contact information, and message, and we’ll get in touch with you as soon as possible. Alternatively, give us a ring at 847-263-6073 to speak directly with an associate.