Foot pain from exercise: Diagnosis and treatment

Aust J Gen Pract. 2024 Mar;53(3):116-120. doi: 10.31128/AJGP-03-23-6754.


Background: Foot pain is present in up to 36% of adults and more common in women, patients aged >55 years and patients who are obese. Embarking on an exercise program to improve health and fitness can result in foot pain. Foot and ankle arthritis accounts for 156,000 general practice presentations nationally each year, and prompt diagnosis and treatment can expedite recovery.

Objective: This article discusses three common presentations of foot pain following exercise: stress fractures, plantar fasciitis and arthritis. The reader will understand how to take an appropriate history, perform an examination and order suitable investigations for these conditions, and when to refer on to allied health, orthopaedic surgeon or a sport and exercise physician.

Discussion: Prompt diagnosis and treatment, particularly focusing on offloading, lifestyle modifications and footwear, using a multidisciplinary team can prevent the development of chronic musculoskeletal pain and expedite recovery and return to activity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arthritis*
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity
  • Pain* / etiology