Foot pain

You can ease most foot pain with simple things yourself. If it doesn't go away, see a GP.

How to ease foot pain and swelling

Try these things for a week:

  • put as little weight as possible on the foot – if you can, avoid standing on it
  • put an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas in a towel) on the foot for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours
  • wear comfortable shoes – for example, avoid shoes with heels
  • take paracetamol

If the skin on your foot looks flaky or blistered, see your pharmacist. They can recommend a cream.

How a foot specialist can help with foot pain

Your GP might refer you to a foot specialist (podiatrist or chiropodist) to get help with your pain.

They should be able to tell you what's wrong with your foot and recommend things like creams or insoles.

You can also pay to see a podiatrist privately.

See a GP if:

  • the pain doesn't go away
  • the pain is very bad
  • your symptoms suddenly get much worse
  • you keep getting the same pain
  • you have a very high temperature or you feel hot and shivery
  • your groin feels tender and painful (swollen glands) – this can be a sign of infection

Common causes of foot pain

You might have other symptoms apart from pain and swelling. How you treat them depends on the cause.

Main symptoms Possible cause
Can't use foot properly, numbness, tingling, feels hot heel pain
Swelling, bruising, feels tender, difficult to move sprains and strains
Swollen, red, bruised, difficult to move broken toe
Swelling, stiffness, foot is weak, grating or crackling feeling, a lump tendon injury
Burning feeling, tingling, feels numb metatarsalgia

Your foot or toe might look different:

Oedema

Read about oedema.

Chilblains

Read about chilblains.

Gout

Read about gout.

Hammer toes

Bunion

Read about bunions.

Fungal nail infection

Read about fungal nail infections.

Verruca

Read about verrucas.

Corns and calluses

Read about corns and calluses.

Ingrown toenail

Read about ingrown toenails.

Athlete's foot

Read about athlete's foot.

Go to A&E if you have signs of a broken ankle or leg after an injury:

Symptoms may include:

  • severe pain
  • feeling faint, dizzy or sick from the pain
  • hearing a crack or grinding noise during the injury
  • swelling and bruising
  • not being able to walk
  • your leg or ankle changing shape

Page last reviewed: 08/11/2017
Next review due: 08/11/2020

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If you can’t speak to your GP or don’t know what to do next.