Foot Pain Overview

Foot pain is very common—most people experience some type of foot pain during their lifetime. Pain can occur anywhere in the foot, including the toes, the ball of the foot, the arch, the instep, the sole, the heel, and the ankle. The incidence of foot pain increases with age.

The three main parts of the foot are the forefoot, the midfoot, and the hindfoot. The forefoot consists of the toes and the connecting long bones (the metatarsals). The midfoot, or arch, consists of five irregularly shaped tarsal bones, which are connected to the forefoot and hindfoot by muscles and the plantar fascia (arch ligament). The hindfoot, which is comprised of three joints, links the midfoot to the ankle (talus) and includes the heel bone (calcaneus). The heel is the largest bone in the foot and it joins the talus to form the subtalar joint. The bottom of the heel bone is cushioned by a layer of fat.

The components of the feet work together to provide support, balance, and mobility. A structural abnormality or malfunction in any part of the foot can cause pain and also can result in problems elsewhere in the body (e.g., back, hips, knees).

Publication Review By: J. Michael Lunsford, D.P.M., Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 31 Jan 2007

Last Modified: 05 Nov 2012