toes, feet, or ankles may burn, sting, hurt, feel tired, sore, stiff, numb,
tingly, hot, or cold. You may have had a "charley horse" (muscle cramp) in your foot while lying in bed at night. Your feet or ankles may
change color or
swell. You may have noticed an embarrassing
odor from your feet. Some changes in your feet and
ankles are normal
as a person ages or
during pregnancy. Home treatment is usually all that
is needed to relieve your symptoms.
Toe, foot, or ankle problems
may be caused by an injury. If you think an injury caused your problem, see the
Toe, Foot, or Ankle Injuries. But there are many noninjury causes of toe,
foot, or ankle problems.
Most skin problems that affect your
feet are more annoying than they are serious. If you have:
Toe joints are more likely to
develop problems than other joints in your feet.
You may develop pain in the front (ball) of your
foot (metatarsalgia) or in your heel. Heel problems commonly
occur when you overuse calf muscles, wear shoes with high heels, or participate
in activities, such as running, that cause repeated pounding on your heels.
Many conditions may affect the
nerves of the foot and cause numbness, tingling, and burning.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when
you should see a doctor.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
When an area turns blue, very pale, or cold, it can mean that there has been a sudden change in the blood
supply to the area. This can be serious.
There are other reasons
for color and temperature changes. Bruises often look blue. A limb may turn
blue or pale if you leave it in one position for too long, but its normal color
returns after you move it. What you are looking for is a change in how the area
looks (it turns blue or pale) and feels (it becomes cold to the touch), and
this change does not go away.
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and
illness. Some examples in adults are:
Pain in adults and older children
Symptoms of infection may
Pain in children under 3 years
It can be hard to tell how much pain a baby or toddler is in.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Pain in children 3 years and older
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, you need
or other emergency services now.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
Most minor toe, foot, or ankle
problems go away on their own. Home treatment is usually all that is needed to
relieve your pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and
forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two
medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
Try home treatment for these other foot problems such
If you are diagnosed with a foot problem, other home treatment steps may help.
Check your symptoms if any of the following occur during home
The following tips may prevent toe, foot,
or ankle problems.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the
October 1, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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