Foot and ankle pain

Print page Reset all

How are the feet structured?

Your feet are made up of 26 bones, more than 30 small joints (where bones meet) and many muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves that all work together.

What causes foot pain?

The two main causes of arthritis-related foot pain are:
  • osteoarthritis, which affects your big toe or your arch and less frequently your ankle
  • different types of inflammatory arthritis, which affect different parts of your foot

How can I help myself when I have foot pain?

A regular footcare routine can help to keep foot problems to a minimum but seek advice from your doctor or a podiatrist first, especially if you have conditions such as vasculitis or scleroderma, you’re taking steroids or your skin tends to be slow to heal.

Specific foot conditions

Different areas of your feet can be affected by different conditions:

Ankles and heels

  • valgus heel
  • plantar fasciitis.


  • changes in the structure
  • strain in muscles or tendons

Ball of the foot.

  • corns and calluses
  • bursae
  • neuroma
  • rheumatoid nodules.


  • bunions
  • hammer toes.

What treatments are there for foot pain?

You’ll probably be able to take care of your foot pain yourself. Finding comfortable footwear can help with most problems, and losing weight will often help reduce symptoms, but more specific treatments include:

Exercises to manage foot pain

Try our simple exercises to help ease foot pain and prevent future injuries.

What footwear should I choose?

Comfort should be the main consideration when choosing footwear. Soft uppers (the part of the shoe that covers the toes, tops and sides of the feet, and the back of the heel) and a flexible sole are usually best. An adjustable fastening will improve fit generally and help if your feet swell.

Remember that your feet change shape as you get older so don’t automatically buy the same size you’ve always worn. A Healthcare Professionals Council (HPC) registered podiatrist will be able to help with general footcare problems, while an orthotist will be able to advise on special insoles and custom-made or adapted shoes.

Search arthritis information