Pain On Inside Of Foot

Written By: Chloe Wilson BSc(Hons) Physiotherapy
Reviewed By: FPE Medical Review Board

Pain On Inside Of Foot: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment of medial foot pain

Pain on the inside of the foot is a common problem that can occur anywhere between the inner heel and the big toe, along the medial arch.

In most cases, inside foot pain develops gradually from overuse, repetitive strain or tight footwear, but it can also develop suddenly with an injury.

Inner arch foot pain may make those first few steps in the morning pretty unbearable, or may get worse the longer you are on your feet. There may be tingling, stiffness, inflammation or difficulty standing on your tiptoes.

But the good news is, there is lots that you can do to help reduce pain on the inside of the foot, aka medial foot pain.

Causes Of Medial Foot Pain

There are a number of possible causes of pain on the inside of the foot. Here we will start by looking at the six most common causes of inside foot pain and how they present. Then we’ll go on to look at some of the other possible causes, and finish by looking at the best treatment options for inner side of foot pain.

If your pain is more on the outer side of the foot, check out the Lateral Foot Pain article.

1. Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

Inner Side Of Foot Pain: Posterior Tibial Tendonitis. Causes, symptoms and treatment

Inflammation of tibialis posterior tendon, most common cause of pain on inside of foot

Causes: ankle sprain, high impact sports e.g. football & basketball, flat feet

Symptoms: inner side of foot pain ankle to midfoot, difficulty standing on tiptoes and walking

Full Article: Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

2. Stress Fractures

Inner Side Of Foot Pain: Navicular Stress Fracture. Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment of inner foot pain

Hairline crack in one of the medial foot bones e.g. 1st metatarsal or navicular

Causes: Repetitive overloading e.g. running and jumping, suddenly increasing activity levels

Symptoms: Mild pain on inside of foot that gradually gets more intense & comes on quicker with activity, swelling & bruising

Full Article: Stress Fractures

3. Accessory Navicular Syndrome

foot arch accessory navicular 375 opt oct 23

Small extra bone at top of inner foot arch

Cause: Genetics, injury, overuse, flat feet

Symptoms: pain, inflammation and hard lump in inner foot arch that rubs on shoes

Full Article: Accessory Navicular Syndrome

4. Foot Bunions

Lump On Side Of Foot: Bunions. Causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of pain on inside of foot

Lump at the base of the big toe that pushes the toe across leaving a bulge

Cause: Tight footwear, high heels and genetics

Symptoms: gradually increasing deviation of big toe, redness, swelling, pain and toe stiffness

Full Article: Foot Bunions

5. Plantar Fasciitis

Inner Arch Foot Pain: Plantar Fasciitis. COmmon causes, symptoms and treatment of pain on inside of foot

Inflammation & tearing of thick band of tissue running under the foot, supporting the arch

Causes: sudden increases in activity levels, poor foot biomechanics, muscle tightness, repetitive overloading, unsupportive footwear

Symptoms: pain on inside of foot near heel, worse in the morning, lump in arch of foot

Full Article: Plantar Fasciitis

6. Foot Cramps

Pain On Inside Of Foot: Cramps. Causes, symptoms and Treatment of inner foot arch cramps

Strong, sudden, involuntary muscle contractions

Causes: diet, medical conditions, nerve damage, muscle imbalance, fatigue

Symptoms: sharp, intense inner arch foot pain, muscle spasms, toe curling, tightness

Full Article: Foot Cramps

7. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Inner Side Foot Pain: Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. Causes, symptoms & treatment for pain on inside of foot

Compression of the posterior tibial nerve at the inner ankle

Causes: ankle swelling, cysts, bone spurs, altered foot biomechanics, jumping

Symptoms: shooting/burning medial foot pain, tingling and numbness, heel to toes

Full Article: Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Other Causes Inner Foot Pain

There are a number of other possible causes of inner arch foot pain.

1. Abductor Hallucis Strain

Another possible cause of pain on the inside of the foot is abductor hallucis strain where there is micro-tearing or inflammation of the abductor hallucis tendon. The tendon runs underneath the foot from the inner heel to the big toe, and is responsible for bending and moving the big toe outwards.

Inadequate warm ups, sudden increases in activity levels, heavy lifting or sports requiring quick pivoting movements can cause abductor hallucis inner foot pain. The pain tends to be focused around the inner foot arch and the base of the big toe. Symptoms typically worsen with activity, particularly when pushing off through the foot.

2. Medial Calcaneal Nerve Entrapment

Compression of the medial calcaneal nerve can also cause inside foot pain. With medial calcaneal nerve entrapment, the nerve which supplies the sensation to the inner side of the heel and arch of the foot becomes compressed or entrapped. This can happen due to anatomical abnormalities, injuries e.g. ankle sprain, overuse or ill-fitting footwear.

Common symptoms of medial calcaneal nerve entrapment includes persistent or intermittent inner heel pain and medial arch pain which may be sharp, shooting or burning. There may be some tingling and numbness in the same area and the inner foot may become very sensitive to touch. You can find out more in the foot nerve pain section.

3. Toe Problems

Problems with the big toe can also cause inner side of foot pain such as:

  • Gout: increased uric acid levels cause crystals to form in the big toe joint. Gout foot causes severe swelling, redness, heat and pain along the inner foot at the base of the big toe. Gout symptoms often develop very rapidly at night time and can lead to joint stiffness and tenderness. Find out more about Gout Foot

  • Hallux Rigidus: wear and tear in the joint between the big toe and the forefoot leads to stiffness and pain in the big toe which can affect activities such as walking and running. Symptoms tend to develop gradually and the pain may vary from a dull ache to an intense sharp pain. Stiffness in the big toe is the main symptom. Find out more about Hallux Rigidus

  • Sesamoiditis: directly underneath the base of the big toe are two pea-sized bones known as the sesamoids. Inflammation of these bones and the surrounding tendon from overuse can cause pain underneath the big toe making activities such as walking and jumping difficult. Find out more about Sesamoiditis

  • Turf Toe: hyperextension of the big toe causes tearing of the ligaments and joint capsule at the base of the big toe. May develop suddenly from an injury e.g. sporting tackle or pushing off to sprint, or gradually from repetitive pivoting, accelerating and jumping activities. Pain usually starts around the big toe but may extend to the inner foot arch making walking difficult, and may be accompanied by swelling and bruising. Find out more about Turf Toe

  • Toe Deformities: Hammer, mallet and claw toe are types of toe deformity where the toe joints move out of their normal position causing curling of the toes in different directions. They are usually caused by nerve damage, muscle weakness, poor circulation, foot injuries, joint disease or footwear. The abnormal toe position changes how the forces are transferred through the foot which can lead to pain on inside of foot as well as toe stiffness and pain. Find out more about Toe Deformities

4. Corns & Calluses

Repetitive or excess friction or pressure through the foot can lead to thick, raised, hardened areas of skin that cause pain on inside of foot. Corns tend to be small, pale, yellowy, pea-sized areas of thick, raised skin. Calluses tend to be larger but flatter areas of thickened skin.

There are various different creams, chemicals and orthotics that can help relieve inner foot pain from corns and calluses, or you may need to get them professional removed if they keep causing pain on the inside of the foot. Find out more about Corns & Calluses.

5. Flat Feet

Inner Arch Foot Pain: Fallen arches can cause pain on inside of foot.

If the arches of the feet are lower than normal, or completely absent, it can cause pain on the inside of the foot.

In individuals with flat feet, the lack of proper arch support can cause the feet to roll inwards excessively when walking or running.

This can cause the inner side of the foot to bear more weight and pressure than it is designed to, leading to strain and discomfort in that area.

Some people are born with flat feet, other people develop them due to muscle imbalance, foot injuries, aging or certain medical conditions. Strengthening exercises, stretches and orthotics can help to support foot arches and reduce inner arch foot pain.

6. Tarsal Coalition

One of the more rare causes of pain on the inside of the foot is tarsal coalition. With tarsal coalition, a bony bridge develops between two of the foot bones so they become partially fused together. Tarsal coalition is typically a congenital problem, i.e. you are born with it, but it may not start causing inner foot pain until teenage years or later, if at all.

A bony bridge can develop between any of the foot bones but often occurs between the heel bone and the navicular, the small bone on the inner side of the ankle. Rest, corticosteroid injections and physical therapy can help to relieve inner foot pain from tarsal coalition, but if the bridge is particularly large, it may need to be surgically removed. Find out more about Tarsal Coalition.

Treating Pain On Inside Of Foot

Treatment for pain on the inside of the foot will depending on the underlying cause of the medial foot pain but will usually involve a combination of:

  • Rest: from aggravating activities to give any inflamed or torn structures time to heal
  • Ice: regularly applying ice packs will help to reduce inner foot pain and inflammation
  • Stretches: stretching exercises for the foot, ankle and calf muscles will help to correct foot position and reduce the tension through the foot tendons and on the bones
  • Strengthening Rehab: exercises can help to improve the strength, stability and control of the foot and ankle and correct foot position. Strengthening the muscles will help take the strain off the medial foot arch and thus reduce pain on inside of foot
  • Physical Therapy: may include treatments such as joint mobilisations, electrotherapy, acupuncture or taping for pain on inside of foot
  • Orthotics: specially designed inserts for your shoes to help support foot arches and correct foot position can really help to reduce inside foot pain
  • Crutches: some cases of pain on inside of foot benefit from using crutches for a few days/weeks to allow the foot to rest and heal
  • Surgery: may be advised to remove excess bone growth, realign or fix bones that are out of place, or to release tight structures

In most cases, pain on the inside of the foot will settle down within 6-12 weeks with correct rest and treatment.

You can find out more about specific treatment for the different causes of pain in the inside of the foot in the following articles:

What Is Causing My Inner Foot Pain?

So as you can see there are lots of possible causes of inner side of foot pain, each of which present with slightly different symptoms:

If your side of foot pain is more on the outer side of the foot rather than the inner side, check out the Pain On Outside Of Foot article.

You may also be interested in the following articles:

Page Last Updated: 11/16/23
Next Review Due: 11/16/25

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