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Foot Pain that Comes and Goes: 5 Reasons Why

Everybody has foot pain from time to time, right? Surely it must be normal to experience foot pain that comes and goes at the end of a long day or while walking?

Quite the contrary — your feet should not hurt at all, and it’s a common misconception that foot pain is “normal.” If you were free from foot conditions, you wouldn’t be experiencing nagging pain that subsides only to flare up later. 

Whether it’s a pain in the top of the foot, heel pain, or ball of the foot pain, some common issues can interrupt your day by reappearing when you thought you were feeling better. And even though they may not be as severe as conditions that cause constant discomfort and foot pain, you’ll be glad you sought treatment in the long run. 

Furthermore, many foot issues get worse if you choose to ignore them. So pain that comes and goes now may stick around all day long in the future. 

Let’s look at what may be causing your foot pain to fade and return. 

5 Reasons Why Foot Pain Comes and Goes

  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Metatarsalgia
  • Morton’s Neuroma
  • Injuries
  • Tendonitis

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is somewhat notorious among foot conditions. It ranks as one of the top causes of heel and arch pain and targets people with varying lifestyles. Some common risk factors include vigorous activity, obesity, deconditioning, standing on hard surfaces, and the anatomy of your foot (arch shape).

The heel pain stems from the inflammation of the plantar fascia tendon. Extending from the heel to the front of your foot, this is a long and thin ligament located directly under the skin on the bottom of the foot. When the plantar fascia fails to absorb the strain and stress we put on ourselves while walking, plantar fasciitis enters the picture.

Why does the pain come and go? 

Typically, plantar fasciitis flares up after a period of rest (since you aren’t irritating the inflamed point of the foot while sedentary). 

Stabbing heel pain worsens during the first few steps of the day. It can also feel worse if you’ve been standing on a hard surface for several hours. Of course, it’s important to seek treatment even if the pain fades for several intervals during the day; if you don’t, it can get much worse and not subside at all.


Do you have pain in the ball of the foot that comes and goes? Metatarsalgia may be the culprit. 

Like plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the metatarsal area (the area between the toes and arch) causes metatarsalgia. Not only is this condition difficult to pronounce, but it can make walking downright unbearable. The same risk factors of plantar fasciitis apply, in addition to wearing ill-fitting footwear and performing physical activity that involves running and jumping. 

Why does the pain come and go? 

Metatarsalgia feels worse when you flex your foot, walk, run or simply stand (especially barefoot). The foot pain will then fade during rest periods.

Again, when inflammation is the reason behind intermittent pain, it will not bother you 24/7. Metatarsalgia is no different, but if you ignore it, the condition may worsen, causing radiating pain to other parts of the foot, the hips and the lower back. This is caused by your body attempting to accommodate the pain by walking differently, which neglects the core issue and strains other body parts.

Morton’s Neuroma

Sometimes nerve problems are to blame for foot pain.

Morton’s Neuroma affects the ball of the foot, specifically the area between the 3rd and 4th toes. The pain is accompanied by a burning sensation and a nagging pressure, and it can also feel like you have an invisible pebble in your shoe. But it’s also known to radiate to the top of the foot, causing intermittent stabbing pain.

When tissues thicken around one of the nerves in our feet, it will cause a burning, sharp pain. People who wear high heels are often at risk, as well as older women and people with foot deformities like hammertoes and bunions.

Why does the pain come and go? 

Morton’s Neuroma pain is generally intermittent, but when you irritate the nerves, you’ll notice the pain is back in full force.

The symptoms will flare up if you continue to walk in the same tight shoes that triggered the problem in the first place. Likewise, if you spend a long day on your feet, the pain will be much more challenging than on a day of lounging and relaxation.


foot injury is a broad term for many scenarios, from dropping a heavy object on the top of the foot to a full-blown ankle sprain or stress fracture. Technically, many foot conditions are injuries, even plantar fasciitis. But for simplicity, let’s discuss more sudden injuries instead of those that cause inflammation or degradation over time. 

Why does the pain come and go? 

When you first suffer from an injury, the pain will likely be acute and bother you consistently, even while resting. 

But foot pain from an injury can transform into a pain that comes and goes when you start to heal. Even though most moderate injuries heal within a month, light activity will trigger pain as you slowly get back to normal. Generally, you must cease any activity if you experience sudden, sharp pain while healing from an injury

It’s also important to speak with a foot specialist and your family doctor about managing intermittent pain after an injury.  


Achilles tendonitis causes a dull ache directly above the heel or on the back of the leg, and extensor tendonitis causes the same feeling on the top of the foot. They both result from inflammation of their respective tendons: the Achilles tendon (the tendon that connects the back of the calf to the heel bone) and the extensor tendons (the tendons that run along the top of the foot).

Athletes are the most vulnerable, as these are repetitive strain injuries that arise after vigorous physical activity. When you bear weight on your toes and feet, you’re putting these tendons to work, making them more susceptible to strain. 

Why does the pain come and go?

Naturally, the pain will be worse when you use these tendons in any capacity or when you first start to move during the day. But tendonitis can also cause stiffness at the end of the night or first thing in the morning without movement. 

Fun fact: the Achilles tendon is not only crucial for performance enhancement, but it’s also the biggest and strongest tendon in the human body! So be sure to protect it from additional harm by seeking treatment. 

What Can I do About Foot Pain That Comes and Goes?

First, don’t let rest periods trick you into thinking your foot pain is gone. Whether it’s inflammation, a pinched nerve or any other trigger for the pain, treatment is always the best option.

Furthermore, a common mistake is assuming that chiropodists are only for severe cases. But several services from a foot clinic are medically proven to provide foot pain relief for those with intermittent discomfort. 

Some of the most effective treatment options include:

For action you can take at home, be sure to kick your tight shoes to the curb and enjoy some rest and relaxation, combined with a good exercise and conditioning routine!

Looking for Foot Pain Relief? Look No Further!

Now that you know why your foot pain comes and goes, it’s time to seek treatment and start moving freely again!

Contact us at 416-769-FEET (3338) or use our online booking form to book an appointment.

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Carolina Charles

Patient Relation Coordinator (She/Her)

If you’ve been to the clinic before, chances are you had the pleasure of meeting Carolina! Carolina’s daily goal is going above and beyond to make sure patients are always completely satisfied. Having worked in the podiatry industry for 22 years, Carolina brings a wealth of knowledge pertaining to client service, insurance policies, and procedures.​ She steers the ship to make sure everything runs smoothly on the daily. Carolina is known for spicing up every outfit with her signature costume jewellery.