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What Are the Causes of Foot & Calf Pain?

author image Aubri John
Aubri John has been a contributing researcher and writer to online physical and mental health oriented journals since 2005. John publishes online health and fitness articles that coincide with her licensed clinical skills in addictions, psychology and medical care. She has a master's degree in clinical social work and a Ph.D. in health psychology.
What Are the Causes of Foot & Calf Pain?
Female runner's calf Photo Credit: lzf/iStock/Getty Images

The lower leg is comprised of the muscles extending down through to the foot. Muscles, tendons and ligaments support the foot and join it to the upper portions of the leg, such as the calf. These systems work together for movement and when a portion of the system is injured the result is signified by pain. Nearly all causes of foot pain is grouped into one of three categories -- poor fitting shoes, medical conditions or injury from impact.

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High Impact

People exercising
People exercising Photo Credit: ColorBlind Images/Blend Images/Getty Images

High impact movement such as running, aerobics or jumping can cause injury to the lower leg and foot area resulting in conditions such as plantar fasciitis or calf muscle strain. The plantar fascia is a band of tissue running across the bottom of the foot. Injury to this portion of the foot causes inflammation and pain that radiates up the leg over time. Tearing or rupture of the calf muscle from high impact activity can also cause intense pain. Ineffective warmup prior to exercise increases the risk of calf strains.


Skeletal foot pain
Skeletal foot pain Photo Credit: SomkiatFakmee/iStock/Getty Images

Individuals with abnormalities in the foot experience pain in the lower limbs from overuse. Cavus foot, unusually high arches, is a condition that results in excessive tension placed on the ball and heel of the foot when engaging normal movement. This foot condition is problematic when overuse in the form of prolonged walking, running or exercise occurs. Achilles tendinitis is another form of overuse that can occur, not related to foot abnormality. Inflammation and irritation in the tendon happens after excessive movement, causing pain in the foot, heel and calf area. Ignoring the pain associated with tendinitis can lead to rupture, which may require surgical repair.

Medical Conditions

Arteriosclerosis Photo Credit: pixologicstudio/iStock/Getty Images

Medical conditions that cause a disturbance in the way movement occurs can cause foot pain. For instance, spinal problems due to nerve damage near the spinal cord or venous thrombosis, a condition in which blood clots form in the veins. Pain may occur when tissues of the limbs do not receive enough oxygen-rich blood. This can happen from plaque buildup on the arteries, referred to as arteriosclerosis and from claudication, or muscle fatiguing.

Lack of Orthopedic Support

Person with foot pain
Person with foot pain Photo Credit: Hlib Shabashnyi/iStock/Getty Images

Shoes that fit too tightly and place pressure on the toes or supply minimal support to the arch of the foot cause foot pain. Orthotic devices can reduce foot and calf pain. However, other conditions such as obesity, causing undue weight on the lower limbs also factor into the level of pain experienced.

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