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Foot Pain Diagnosis

Foot pain diagnosis is focuses mainly on finding out what is causing your foot pain so you know how to treat it effectively.

One of the simplest ways to approach foot pain diagnosis is to start by determining where exactly the pain is - there might be a

  • problem in the bones
  • inflammation in the tendons or
  • even damage to one (or more) of the ligaments

There are over 100 muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments in the foot so there are countless things that can go wrong.

top of foot pain

Pain on top of the foot, or across the front of the ankle is a very common problem actually.

Strain on the muscles, tendons and bones from overuse can lead to inflammation or degeneration resulting in tendonitis or even fractures.

Article: Top Of Foot Pain

bottom of foot / arch pain

Pain underneath your foot is common if you spend a lot of time on your feet standing or walking.

There may be weakness and tightness in the muscles, or the foot arches may not sit correctly.

These both mean the foot isn't supported properly, leading to pain. Poor foot hygiene also causes problems underneath the foot.

Article: Pain Under Foot

Side of foot pain

Pain on the side of the foot is usually caused by overuse, injury, wear and tear or bone deformity.

An ankle sprain will typically cause pain and swelling on the outer side of the foot. 

Pain on the inner side of the foot is often due to flat foot arches.

Article: Pain On Side Of Foot

heel pain

Our heels absorb most of the impact when we walk so heel pain is a common foot problem.

Pain at the back of the heel may be from tendonitis, bursitis or bone damage.

Pain underneath the heel is usually from plantar fasciitis or bone spurs.

Article: Heel Pain

toe pain

Problems can develop in any of the toes, but most commonly it's the big toe that's affected.

Bone deformity is a common problem leading to bunions or bent toes.

Toes may be damaged in sports or inflamed from conditions such as gout or arthritis.

Article: Pain In The Toes

nerve pain

Nerve damage frequently causes burning, pins and needles, numbness and weakness in the feet. 

The nerve may be damaged anywhere between the lower back and the toes.

Symptoms may be felt in both feet.

Article: Nerve Pain In Foot

calf pain

The calf muscles are linked to the foot by the achilles tendon so foot and calf problems tends to come together.

Damage to the calf muscle may cause foot pain and altered foot biomechanics such as flat feet which also can cause calf pain.

Calf pain can also indicate vascular or neurological problems so should be taken seriously.

Article: Calf Pain

knee pain

If your pain is higher up closer to the knee, then visit our section on knee pain.

Our knees can also be so easily damaged due to it being one of the big weight-bearing joints, and that so much forces go through the knees.

Common knee issues includes:

  • knee osteoarthritis
  • knee sprains
  • knee fractures
  • and more

Article: Knee Pain

Pain can often radiate to more than one part of the foot which can make foot pain diagnosis and its management slightly more tricky, but start by thinking

  • where your biggest (or central) area of pain is or
  • where it started

and go from there. Click on each link that is most related to the foot pain that you're experiencing.

If your foot pain seems much more generalized and widespread, visit the Foot Symptom Guide to use your symptoms, such as swelling or burning pain, to help you work out what is wrong.

Why Is Foot Pain Diagnosis Important?

The reason for this is that accurate foot pain diagnosis plays a very important part of treatment and recovery from foot and ankle pain.

Without accurate foot pain diagnosis, any forms of foot pain treatment tends to be general rather than specifically targeted to your problem, and whilst the pain may be treated for now in the short term, it is likely to return at some point.

A simple example is if a person is very sick with an illness, and one of the symptoms of the illness is fever, if the physician or person just treats the fever, yes, the fever may come down for a while, but it'd soon go up again...because the main illness isn't treated.

Likewise, for your foot pain, if we don't first understand the core problem of the foot pain, or if you just take some painkillers or ice it and decrease exercise, yeah, the foot pain will go down for a while...

...but as the foot pain isn't resolved, it'd likely come back.

Effective treatment of any problem relies not on simply treating the symptom of the problem e.g. instability or pain but at treating the underlying cause of the problem e.g. muscle imbalance or poor foot biomechanics.

Seeing The Doctor

Accurate foot pain diagnosis is best done by your doctor or physiotherapist. They will start by asking you about your symptoms and will want to know:

  • When and how the pain started
  • What other symptoms you have
  • Activities that aggravate your symptoms
  • Anything that helps to ease your symptoms
  • If you've had any previous injuries
  • If there is any daily pattern to your foot pain
  • Whether things are getting better, worse or staying the same
  • Any treatments that you have tried
  • About any other medical conditions you have or medications that you are taking

After this, they should examine your feet, comparing left and right and looking for any abnormalities such as swelling, redness or bruising. They may also want to look at your knees and back, particularly if they suspect there may be nerve involvement at the higher levels that impacts the lower level (foot).

They will look at the movements of your foot and ankle as well as the strength and flexibility of the muscles. They may also perform some special tests to assess the integrity of ligaments and other structures.

If they suspect a bony injury, you will be sent for an x-ray. They may also order blood tests or other imaging such as a CT scan or ultrasound depending on what they find.

Once they have given you a foot pain diagnosis you will either be advised how to self-manage your pain, or be sent to a specialist such as a physiotherapist, orthotist or orthopedic consultant.

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(or check your pains / injuries)

Phoenix Rehab Physio Services

Phoenix Rehab Group works with specialist physiotherapists and rehab therapists who are highly trained, qualified, experienced and passionate to provide high level of expert care to our patients.


Patients who sustained injuries to their elbows, forearms, hands, wrists (sprains and fractures) and fingers, usually will benefit / require Hand Therapy to

  1. manage and decrease hand pains
  2. improve range of motion, strength and dexterity
  3. increase the function of their hand following injuries or post-operations

Commonly treated hand pain injuries includes


Clinical Pilates is a form of physical exercise that focuses on posture, core stability, balance, control, strength, flexibility and breathing.

It is a system of safe and effective exercises, which meet specific individual needs, to treat a wide range of injuries and conditions.

You may do Pilates as matwork or with the reformer or both, and every session will be customized 100% to your fitness, injury and tolerance.


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Sports and deep tissue release massage helps to increase nutrient-rich blood flow to tired, tight and tense muscles to accelerate recovery and  shorten downtime / recovery period required.

It also prevents muscles from scar tissue micro-tears (and potential ruptures), and increases muscle performance. Having regular deep tissue and sports massage will keep your muscles healthy and fit with body/movement-confidence.

Read the benefits of regular deep tissue release therapy here.


All our allied health therapists and TCM physicians are fully insured and registered with Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC) and Traditional Chinese Medicine Board (TCMB).

See our entire team here with introductions and their specializations.

At the first session, our specialist physiotherapists will carry out a thorough assessment, helping them to select the most appropriate treatment to help you recover as well as provide treatment in the same session.

Follow up sessions are inline to provide expert treatment for your pain as well as prescribing specific exercises to reduce your risk of re-injury and giving you a long term solution.

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