11 Surprising Causes of Foot Pain When Walking

Have you been experiencing foot pain when walking?

Statistics show that you’re not alone! One in every five people in the United States experience foot pain when walking!

As someone who loves trying out different shoes and boots, I know how uncomfortable it feels walking around with endless foot pain.

Sometimes foot pain occurs due to wearing the wrong type of shoe – but other times it derives from a pre-existing condition.

For this reason, I wanted to explore and discuss some of the most common causes of pain when walking.

Here’s everything you need to know about them:

1. Arthritis

Many people who suffer from arthritis experience pain in their feet when walking. This type of arthritis comes in two forms: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It causes degeneration of foot cartilage, the protective cushion between two bones positioned next to each other in your foot. When this happens, the two bones rub against each other as you walk, causing pain.

On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis damages tendons, ligaments, and cartilages found in different bones in the feet, also resulting in pain.

2. Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s Neuroma is a pain that targets the area between your third and fourth toes. In most cases, it feels like a fold or pebble in your sock. If left untreated, Morton’s Neuroma can cause permanent nerve damage.

3. Plantar Fasciitis

Do you usually feel pain in your feet when you step off the bed in the morning? Well, it could be a case of plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is usually a dormant kind of pain triggered by prolonged standing or walking. The pain results from the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a group of thick connective tissue found across the bottom part of the feet.

4. Tendinitis

You’ve probably heard a thing or two about tendons, the thick cords connecting the foot muscles to the bone. Tendinitis is, therefore, an inflammation or irritation of the foot tendons, causing pain. When walking, this kind of pain occurs around the heels.

5. Calluses

Calluses are thick, rough areas of the skin, usually appearing as a bump. In most cases, you’ll find them on the feet and toes, typically caused by wearing tight shoes or shoes without socks. Calluses are unsightly and painful, especially when the toes rub against the inner walls of the shoe when walking.

6. Turf toe

Turf toe usually occurs when you bend your toe too far upward. It’s common in athletes playing on artificial turf, which explains the name ‘turf toe.’ Turf toe can be treated with the RICE protocol, which involves Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

7. Flat feet

The term ‘Flat feet’ is used to describe feet with little or no arch. In most cases, babies have flat feet at birth, but the arch forms later on as they grow up.

The National Foot Health Assessment reports that about 18 million Americans aged 21 and above have flat feet.

Having flat feet can be painful when walking because the feet can’t absorb pressure from the ground. As a result, people with flat feet often wear structurally supportive shoes for better balance and less pain when walking.

Unfortunately, this condition can only be treated but not cured since flat feet occur naturally when feet arches fail to develop.

8. Cuboid Syndrome

Cuboid syndrome occurs primarily due to damage to the joints and ligaments near the cuboid bone in the foot. However, it can also be caused by partial dislocation of bones.

When this happens, you’ll most likely experience pain along the side of your smallest toe and outside your foot. The pain is usually worse when walking and may cause redness in the affected area.

Other symptoms include weakness in toes, swelling near your ankle, and loss of mobility.

The RICE protocol is the most effective and common treatment method for cuboid syndrome. However, if the pain persists, it is always a great idea to consult a qualified foot doctor.

9. Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia occurs due to inflammation or irritation of the ball of your foot.

The ball of the foot is the padded portion of the sole, located between the toes and the arch.

The condition is common in athletes or individuals wearing non-fitting shoes. In some cases, metatarsalgia results from having a foot deformity.

Individuals suffering from metatarsalgia usually experience sharp pain, which worsens when walking or running. The pain is quite similar to having a pebble in your sock when walking.

10. Hallux Vagus

Also known as ‘Bunions,’ Hallux Vagus is when the toe bends toward the other toes. As a result of the tilting, a bony bump forms on the side or base of the big toe.

The condition is usually painful, especially when wearing tight or restrictive shoes. For this reason, the person may develop swelling, numbness, or redness in the affected foot.

Wearing small shoes is one of the leading causes of bunion problems. The American Foot and Ankle Society estimates that of 88% of women who wear shoes that are too small or too tight, 55% suffer from bunion issues.

Although anyone can get a bunion, they are more prevalent in women and are mostly inherited. According to studies, women are ten times more likely to have bunions than men.

11. Heel Fat Pad Syndrome

HFPS occurs when the heel fat pad loses its thickness or elasticity, or even both, due to wear and tear. The condition can be caused by obesity, inflammation of the heel fat pad, excess force, especially when walking on hard surfaces, type 2 diabetes, among others. Individuals who suffer from this condition often experience pain when standing and walking.

The Bottom Line

Statistics show that 77% of 1000 US adults aged 18 and older have experienced foot pain. However, only a third of the population would seek help.

The good news is that most of these foot problems can be treated if addressed early enough. While some may only require painkillers, ice packs, and a little bit of rest, others need a different approach, such as special footwear.

Want to learn more about foot pain and treatment options? Click here!