About 77% of Americans experience foot pain at any given time. Although common, many people with foot pain fail to seek professional treatment, which can irritate the condition further. Board certified foot and rear foot surgeon Michael Howell, DPM, diagnoses and treats foot pain in people of all ages. To schedule your appointment at the Coldwater, Michigan office call us today.

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What is foot pain?

Foot pain is a common musculoskeletal condition characterized by swelling, aching, or general discomfort that affects the toes, heels, arches, or soles of the feet.

For some people, foot pain is a minor annoyance. For others, it’s an ongoing problem that makes daily activities, like playing with your kids or going for a hike, difficult.

What are some common causes of foot pain?

Foot pain occurs for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common culprits include:


Hammertoe occurs due to an imbalance between the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that hold your toes straight. This causes one or more toes to bend in a curved, hammerhead-like position. Hammertoes can affect anyone, though the main cause is often based on one’s foot structure, and there can be a genetic component as well.


Bunions are large, bony bumps that develop on the outer edge of the foot, near the base of the big toe. Like hammertoe, they usually occur due to one’s foot structure as well as their gait pattern. Bunions can become painful when they rub up against your socks and shoes, resulting in swelling, irritation, blisters, and general discomfort. In addition, bunions can cause crowding of the lesser toes. Bunions and hammer toes are often seen simultaneously.


There are many possible reasons you might experience a fracture, most commonly, trauma from a fall or injury, or dropping a heavy object on your foot. Foot fractures cause swelling and bruising and make it difficult to put weight on or move with the affected foot. In addition, some people develop stress fractures, which are usually the result of chronic overuse of a certain bone that can cause the bone to fatigue and form a hairline fracture. Often, this can be due to poor shoe gear, rapid increase in activity, or osteoporosis.


Arthritis is a group of more than 100 diseases that affect the health and function of your joints. Gout, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and osteoarthritis are just some of those that can all affect the feet, causing discomfort and swelling, all while interfering with your overall mobility. Arthritis can cause inflammation in any of the 20+ foot joints, which can ultimately lead to the joint wearing down and eventually, bone on bone arthritis.

How is foot pain diagnosed?

To diagnose foot pain, Dr. Howell reviews your medical history, asks you about your symptoms, and performs a thorough foot examination. During the exam, he will palpate for areas of pain, test muscle strength and range of motion, as well as examine the neurovascular status. When appropriate, he will also evaluate the gait pattern to determine one’s functionality.

If these measures don’t provide enough information, Dr. Howell will order an X-ray to be done immediately in his office, or if needed, an MRI, CT, or other appropriate studies to get a closer look at the bones and soft tissues in your feet.

How is foot pain treated?

Treatment for foot pain depends on the severity of your symptoms and the underlying cause. Dr. Howell often discusses options for conservative treatment initially. Some of these include stretching, physical therapy, oral medications, appropriate shoes and orthotics, and corticosteroids. However, in the event that conservative options fail or are not possible, for example, as is often the case with fractures, Dr. Howell will discuss surgical options to relieve your pain.

To explore your treatment options for foot pain, schedule an appointment with Michael Howell, DPM, at his office in Coldwater, MI. Call the office today.