Toe, Foot, and Ankle Problems, Noninjury
Toe, Foot, and Ankle Problems, Noninjury
Everyone has had a minor problem with a toe, foot, or ankle. Most of the time
our body movements do not cause problems, but it's not surprising that symptoms
develop from everyday wear and tear or overuse. Toe, foot, or ankle problems
can also occur from injuries or the natural process of aging.
toes, feet, or ankles may burn, sting, hurt, feel tired, sore, stiff, numb,
tingly, hot, or cold. You may have had a "charley horse" (muscle cramp) in your foot while lying in bed at night. Your feet or ankles may
change color or
swell. You may have noticed an embarrassing
odor from your feet. Some changes in your feet and
ankles are normal
as a person ages or
during pregnancy. Home treatment is usually all that
is needed to relieve your symptoms.
Toe, foot, or ankle problems
may be caused by an injury. If you think an injury caused your problem, see the
Toe, Foot, or Ankle Injuries. But there are many noninjury causes of toe,
foot, or ankle problems.
Most skin problems that affect your
feet are more annoying than they are serious. If you have:
- The feeling of walking on pebbles: You may have
plantar warts on the bottom of your
- Patches of thick and tough skin on the heel or ball of your
foot: You may have a
callus, corn, blister, or skin
- Red, peeling, cracking, burning, and itchy skin between
your toes or on the bottom of your feet: You may have
athlete's foot. Or maybe your feet are reacting to the
shoes you are wearing (shoe dermatitis).
swollen, and painful skin around a toenail: You may have an
ingrown nail or an infection around your nail (paronychia).
- Red, swollen soles of your
feet that are painful to the touch or when you walk: You may have a bacterial
infection. Public showers, hot tubs, or swimming pools are common areas where
bacterial infections, athlete's foot, and
warts can be spread to your feet.
Toe joints are more likely to
develop problems than other joints in your feet.
- Heat, pain, redness, swelling, and extreme
tenderness that comes on quickly in your big toe joint may be caused by
gout. Similar symptoms can occur with an
- If you have swelling or a bump
at the base of your big toe, you may have a
- If you have a bump on the outside
of your little toe, you may have a
bunionette , also called a Tailor's
- If your toes, other than your big toes, bend in an odd
position, you may have
hammer toes, mallet toes, or claw toes .
- Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling are
common when you have conditions such as
lupus, or gout.
You may develop pain in the front (ball) of your
foot (metatarsalgia) or in your heel. Heel problems commonly
occur when you overuse calf muscles, wear shoes with high heels, or participate
in activities, such as running, that cause repeated pounding on your heels.
Numbness or tingling
Many conditions may affect the
nerves of the foot and cause numbness, tingling, and burning.
- Pain, burning, tingling, or numbness that
occurs between your toes, especially the third and fourth toes, and in the ball
of your foot may be caused by a growth around the nerves (Morton's neuroma).
- Pain, numbness, and
tingling that begins in your back or buttock, moves down your leg, and into
your foot may be
sciatica, caused by a pinched nerve (nerve root
- Foot and ankle pain that occurs with numbness and
weakness in your foot may be caused by a pinched nerve in your ankle (tarsal tunnel syndrome) or back (sciatica).
- Burning, numbness, or lack of feeling in your feet may be caused
by poor circulation, especially in people who have
peripheral arterial disease. The circulation problem
can lead to nerve damage (peripheral neuropathies). Foot problems are more likely to develop in people who
have these conditions.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when
you should see a doctor.
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
October 1, 2012
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