Foot Pain Chart- Understand Foot Pain Location and Causes

Foot Pain Chart- Understand Foot Pain Location and Causes

Understanding the foot pain chart involved at rising common cause of pain along with the typical characteristics this can help in quickly identifying the potential cause of pain based on the symptoms and the pain location foot pain is a common complaint with a multitude of potential causes understanding these causes essential for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment  The causes of foot pain can vary significantly depending on the location of the pain—whether it is on the top, bottom, side, front, or back of the foot. This article synthesizes findings from several keep studies and clinical guideline providing a detailed examination of the various ideology of foot pain .


1. Top Foot Pain


Foot pain at the top of the foot, also known as dorsal foot pain, can arise from various musculoskeletal and neurological conditions. The top of the foot is anatomically complex, comprising bones, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels, all of which can be sources of pain.

  • Extensor Tendonitis: This condition is characterized by inflammation of the extensor tendons, which run along the top of the foot. Extensor tendonitis often results from overuse, improper footwear, or excessive pressure on the top of the foot. Studies suggest that repetitive strain and biomechanical abnormalities contribute to the development of this condition .
  • Stress Fractures: These are small cracks in the bones of the foot, commonly the metatarsals, due to repetitive stress or overuse. Research indicates that athletes and military personnel are particularly susceptible to stress fractures, with symptoms including localized pain and swelling that worsen with activity .
  • Nerve Entrapment: Conditions such as tarsal tunnel syndrome and deep peroneal nerve entrapment can cause top foot pain. These conditions result from compression of nerves, leading to symptoms such as sharp, burning pain, tingling, and numbness. Studies highlight the role of anatomical variations and external pressure as contributing factors .

Symptoms of top foot pain:

  • Pain and tenderness on the top of the foot
  • Swelling and bruising

2. Bottom Foot Pain 


The bottom foot pain , or plantar surface, is a common site for foot pain, often linked to conditions affecting the plantar fascia and other soft tissues.


  • Plantar Fasciitis: This is the most common cause of heel pain, involving inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament that spans from the heel to the toes. Epidemiological studies show that plantar fasciitis affects a significant portion of the population, particularly runners and individuals with high body mass index (BMI). The condition is associated with pain that is most severe upon first steps in the morning .
  • Heel Spurs: These are bony growths on the underside of the heel bone, often associated with chronic plantar fasciitis. Research indicates that heel spurs are found in about 15% of individuals with heel pain, and while they can exacerbate pain, they are not always the primary cause .
  • Metatarsalgia: Pain in the ball of the foot, or metatarsalgia, results from inflammation of the metatarsal heads. This condition is frequently seen in athletes and individuals who wear high-heeled shoes. Studies suggest that excessive pressure on the metatarsal heads leads to pain and inflammation .

3. Side Foot Pain 


Pain along the sides of the foot can result from various structural and soft tissue issues, often related to overuse or biomechanical abnormalities.


  • Peroneal Tendonitis: This condition involves inflammation of the peroneal tendons, located on the lateral (outer) side of the foot and ankle. It is commonly seen in individuals who engage in activities requiring repetitive ankle motion. Research highlights the role of ankle instability and improper footwear as contributing factors​ .
  • Cuboid Syndrome: This is a less common condition involving the subluxation of the cuboid bone, leading to pain on the lateral side of the foot. Studies on cuboid syndrome emphasize the importance of early diagnosis and manual manipulation for effective treatment​ ​.
  • Posterior Tibial Tendonitis: Affecting the medial (inner) side of the foot, this condition involves inflammation of the posterior tibial tendon, which supports the arch of the foot. It is particularly prevalent in individuals with flat feet or those who overpronate. Research indicates that posterior tibial tendon dysfunction can lead to significant disability if not treated properly​ ​.

Symptoms of Side Foot Pain:

  • Pain along the outer edge of the foot
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Difficulty bearing weight

Outer Side Foot Pain: Causes and Symptoms

Bunions (Tailor's Bunion)  A bunionette or bony bump that forms on the outer side of the foot at the base of the fifth toe. Genetic predisposition, ill-fitting shoes, or biomechanical abnormalities. Symptoms of outer side foot pain inloves, Pain, redness, and swelling on the outer side of the foot near the fifth toe Tailor's bunion can be managed with proper footwear, orthotics, and in severe cases, surgery (DiGiovanni et al., 2001)​ (NICE)​ .

Symptoms of Outer Side Foot Pain

  • Pain: Sharp, aching, or throbbing pain along the outer side of the foot.
  • Swelling: Visible swelling on the lateral aspect of the foot.
  • Tenderness: Tenderness to touch, especially over the peroneal tendons or the cuboid bone.
  • Instability: Feeling of instability or weakness in the foot.
  • Difficulty Walking: Pain exacerbated by weight-bearing activities, making walking difficult.

Understanding the specific causes and symptoms of outer side foot pain is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

4. Front  Foot Pain 


Pain in the front of the foot, or forefoot, is often related to the toes and the metatarsal region.


  • Morton's Neuroma: This is a painful condition affecting the ball of the foot, typically between the third and fourth toes. It is caused by the thickening of tissue around one of the nerves leading to the toes, often due to tight footwear or high-impact activities. Studies suggest that women are more commonly affected than men, possibly due to footwear choices .
  • Bunions (Hallux Valgus): A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe, causing pain and deformity. Research indicates that bunions are often hereditary but can also result from wearing narrow or high-heeled shoes .
  • Hammer Toe: This deformity causes a toe to bend or curl downward instead of pointing forward, often leading to pain and discomfort. Hammer toe can be caused by wearing tight shoes, arthritis, or trauma. Studies show that early intervention with orthotics and proper footwear can prevent the condition from worsening .

5. Back Foot Pain


Pain at the back of the foot, particularly around the heel and Achilles tendon, is commonly associated with overuse injuries and inflammatory conditions.


  • Achilles Tendinitis: Inflammation of the Achilles tendon, connecting the calf muscles to the heel bone, is a frequent cause of posterior foot pain. This condition is often seen in runners and individuals who increase their physical activity suddenly. Research emphasizes the importance of gradual training increases and proper stretching to prevent Achilles tendinitis .
  • Sever's Disease: This condition affects children and adolescents, causing heel pain due to inflammation of the growth plate in the heel. It is commonly seen in physically active children. Studies suggest that rest, ice, and supportive footwear are effective in managing Sever's disease .
  • Retrocalcaneal Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa located between the Achilles tendon and the heel bone can cause pain at the back of the foot. This condition is often caused by repetitive stress or ill-fitting shoes. Research indicates that treating the underlying inflammation and adjusting footwear can provide relief​ (RACGP)​.


Foot pain chart can manifest in various locations, each with distinct causes and symptoms. Understanding these differences is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. The literature highlights the importance of recognizing specific conditions associated with different areas of the foot and emphasizes the need for targeted interventions, including proper footwear, physical therapy, and, when necessary, medical treatment. Early diagnosis and management are key to preventing chronic pain and maintaining foot health.


Rina Pandya

Article by Rina Pandya

Published 23 May 2024