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Pain in one or both feet is very common – around three out of every four people will suffer from foot pain at some time in their lives. This is hardly surprising, given that the average person walks around the world about four times during their life!


Foot pain has many different causes and ranges from mild discomfort to pain that is so severe it prevents mobility. The good news is most cases of foot pain can be managed by a combination of pain relievers, ongoing foot care at home or by a podiatrist, and wearing sensible and supportive footwear.



What causes foot pain?


  • Sport and fitness activity injuries like Achilles tendonitis
  • Work-related injuries, including falls and damage caused by machinery
  • Bunions, corns and calluses
  • Circulatory problems, for example in people with diabetes
  • Arthritis, including gout
  • Plantar Fasciitis (inflammation and pain in the heel)
  • Morton's Neuroma (an enlarged nerve that usually occurs in the ball of the foot, between the third and fourth toes)
  • Athlete’s foot




What is the treatment?




If you have an injury such as a sprain, strain, or torn muscle, you should immediately apply RICE (rest, ice, compression by wrapping or bandaging the injured area, and elevation – putting your foot up on a stool or chair). Using these four immediate first aid measures can help to relieve pain, limit swelling, protect the injured tissues and speed healing.


You can also take over-the-counter pain-relievers such as paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or diclofenac, or a combination of both Paracetamol 500mg + Ibuprofen 150mg. Topical creams and rubs can also provide effective pain relief.



Bunions, Corns and Calluses


Consult a podiatrist, who will recommend the right treatment. Over-the-counter pain-relievers can help if your bunions are painful, but very advanced bunions may require surgery.



Plantar Fasciitis and Morton’s Neuroma


See a podiatrist, who may recommend orthotics (special insoles for your shoes) and correct footwear, as these measures address the biomechanical function of the foot. You can take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or a combination of Paracetamol 500mg + Ibuprofen 150mg.   Topical creams and rubs may be effective for pain relief. Massage and stretching exercises may also help.



Diabetic foot-care


People with diabetes have an increased risk of a loss of feeling to their feet, circulatory problems and foot ulcers. Diabetics need to keep their feet well moisturised to prevent cracks in the skin as these are often the point of entry for infection. 



If you are diabetic, you should wash and dry your feet thoroughly every day and watch for any areas of hard skin, rashes, or splits between the toes. Cut your toenails straight across, but without leaving any sharp edges. It is important that your shoes do not put any pressure on your toes and that you have good cushioning in the sole. See your doctor if you have any concerns.



Athlete’s foot


Athlete's foot is a very common skin infection caused by the ringworm fungus (tinea). This fungus is found on floors in showers, gyms, locker rooms, swimming pools, nail salons, and in socks and shoes, and can also be spread directly from person to person.


The symptoms are severe itching, burning pain and blistering or cracks between the toes.


Mild cases are usually treated with medicated powders and/or antifungal creams available at your pharmacy. More advanced cases will require oral antifungal medication, available on prescription from your doctor.




More Information

Diabetes NZ


Podiatry New Zealand




Any medical information in this website is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, it is of a general nature only.  Please consult with a health care professional if you have a specific problem. 


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