The 11 Most Common Foot Lumps and Bumps Explained and What You Can Do About Them

A surprisingly wide variety of lumps, bumps, and protrusions can afflict our feet. If you’ve got a bump on your foot, you may be wondering what the heck it is and how it got there.

So we’ve put together an overview of the most common and interesting bumps (we’re foot doctors, so bumps on your feet are a big deal to us) together with the appropriate treatment for each.

What are calluses and how do you prevent them?

Callus Removal, Foot and Ankle Specialists Los Angels

Your foot and ankle specialist can shave down the thick layers of a callus using a scalpel blade.

Calluses are created by friction applied to the skin of the foot, often by misfitting shoes. Calluses are also formed when the metatarsals (the long bones in the foot) become misaligned. This displacement causes uneven distribution of weight across the ball of the foot when walking.

Over-the-counter callus pads and orthotics are available to reduce the friction between your feet and your shoes. If those remedies don’t work, and your calluses are making life difficult, see a podiatrist and let a pro check your feet and take care of them for you. And if you’re in Southern California, we know some great people you can see! 🙂

What is accessory navicular syndrome?

If you have a bump on the inner side of the foot, just above the arch, you may have what is known as an accessory navicular. It’s an extra bone or sometimes a piece of cartilage. This condition is congenital. As the name suggests, it’s not part of our standard skeletal equipment.

The extra bone often remains dormant and causes no problems. But the accessory navicular is incorporated within the posterior tibial tendon, and it can sometimes interfere with the function of that tendon.

What are the symptoms of an accessory navicular?

The symptoms of accessory navicular syndrome include a visible bony protrusion on the inner side of the foot, pain or throbbing (usually after significant physical activity), and redness and swelling where the protrusion rubs against footwear.

What treatments are available for accessory navicular syndrome?

For relief of moderate navicular symptoms, ice and anti-inflammatory drugs may be sufficient. Physical therapy, designed to strengthen and enlarge the muscles around the navicular and decrease inflammation, is often helpful, as are custom orthotic devices that accommodate the extra bone. As is usually the case, surgery remains the remedy of last resort.

What are bunions?

Bunions are one of the most common of the more serious foot conditions. A bunion is a bony protrusion which usually forms at the base of the big toe. It occurs when the joint between the big toe and the long metatarsal bones becomes misaligned, or additional bone structure appears. The enlarged joint can become inflamed and painful.

Why do some people get bunions and other don’t?

Bunion Treatment options University Foot and Ankle Institute Los AngelesBunions can form for several reasons and are often, though not always, hereditary (thanks, Mom)! Other causes of bunions aside from genetics are:

Structural abnormalities such as missing bones, flattened arches or a short first metatarsal. If you have one leg longer than the other and an uneven gait, you may be prone to develop bunions.

Pregnancy can result in the development of bunions. Relaxin, the hormone that helps widen the pelvis during pregnancy, can also soften the ligaments in the foot. This can cause the bones in the feet to spread out and arches to fall.

Wearing high heels on a regular basis. Balancing and walking with high heels can tighten calf muscles and force load-bearing to the front of the foot. Gradually the arch can collapse. Many high heels have a narrow, pointed toe that reshapes the foot into an unnatural position.

How are bunions treated?

Treatment usually starts with switching to shoes with a more capacious toe-box, inserting padding, or using arch supports. Again, surgery is the last resort when conservative treatment doesn’t resolve the problem.

What are plantar fibromas and how are they treated?

A plantar fibroma is a clump of fibrous tissue that appears in the foot’s arch. Fibromas are benign, but they can cause significant pain and discomfort as they grow. Men are more often affected by plantar fibromas than are women, and the condition generally begins during or after middle age.

The precise cause of plantar fibromas is unknown, but genetics may be a factor. These bumps on the foot are more common among folks of northern European descent, and those of Asian ancestry are rarely affected. Repetitive trauma may also play a role; such recurrent injuries prevent healing of the fascia in the arch.

Small plantar fibromas without any symptoms usually don’t require any treatment. But when symptoms become problematic there are several courses of action.

  • A corticosteroid shot can reduce inflammation and consequent pain, but it won’t halt the growth of the fibroma, so it’s a temporary solution at best
  • Orthotic appliances can redistribute body weight throughout the foot and help to reduce pressure on the fibroma.
  • Physical therapy will stretch and strengthen the arch, reduce inflammation, increase circulation in the foot, and promote the growth of new cells.
  • For intractable cases, surgery is once again the appropriate remedy of last resort.

What’s a lipoma?

A lipoma is a benign slow growing mass composed of fatty tissue, which commonly occurs on the bottom of the foot. Like fibromas, which they resemble, lipomas don’t need treatment if they are not causing problems. However, they can grow large enough to impinge on the surrounding nerves, tendons, and ligaments. When they cause a problem, they can be readily excised.

What is Morton’s neuroma?

A neuroma is a lump of scar tissue that has developed around a nerve. The type of neuroma that most commonly affects the feet is known as Morton’s neuroma. It usually occurs in the area just below the junction of the third and fourth toes.

How does one get Morton’s neuroma and what does it feel like?

The cause is repetitive trauma. Morton’s neuroma is incurred more often by women than by men, and the recurrent trauma which causes it is often linked to high-heeled shoes.

The symptoms include the sensation that you’re standing on a piece of gravel, and a burning pain in the ball of your foot that may radiate into your toes. Change up your footwear and reduce or modify activities that cramp your toes together. If this doesn’t work, it’s time to consult a podiatrist.

What are plantar warts and how are they treated?

Plantar Wart, University Foot and Ankle Institute Los AngelesPlantar warts are caused by human papilloma virus (HPV). The virus can enter your feet through cuts or areas where the skin has become thin.

Plantar warts are generally small, and rough to the touch. They can be tender or painful when you walk or run.

They will usually disappear on their own, but you may need to seek medical attention if the warts bleed, cause continuing disruptive pain or change color. Be sure to see your podiatrist if you have either type II diabetes or a weakened immune system.

What is bursitis in the feet and how is it treated?

Bursas (or bursae) are small fluid-filled sacs which act as shock absorbers around and between your bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The painful condition known as bursitis generally occurs after a trauma or repetitive stress causes inflammation of the bursae. When it occurs in your feet, bursitis usually appears in or around your big toe, the side of your feet or your heel.

The first step in treating bursitis in the feet is, logically enough, avoiding the trauma or repetitive stress that caused it in the first place. Rest, ice, and elevation will help, as will anti-inflammatory agents such as ibuprofen. If the condition persists, see your podiatrist, who may administer corticosteroids, provide physical therapy, or, in extreme cases, perform surgery.

What is Haglund’s deformity?

This condition involves growth of a bony protrusion from the back of the heel, underneath the Achilles tendon. The symptoms of Haglund’s deformity are akin to Achilles tendinosis, which can make it difficult to diagnose. Symptoms include pain, both internal and from external abrasion, when the bump rubs against your footwear.

What’s the treatment for Haglund’s deformity?

Treatment includes wearing open back shoes, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen, and icing. If these home treatments don’t work, ultrasound treatments, orthotics, and immobilizing boots may help. Your podiatrist can perform surgical excision of the excess bone in extreme cases.

What are cysts?

A cyst is a small sac filled with fluid. Think of a tiny water balloon, linked to a tendon or embedded in the soft tissue surrounding a joint in your foot. The two types of cysts most commonly found in the foot are synovial and ganglion. Both are benign, and they can exist without causing symptoms, but cysts can grow into problems when they press on a nerve or tendon.

How are cysts on the feet treated?

Persistent or increasingly troublesome cysts can be treated by aspiration. The precise location of the cyst is determined by ultrasound, the area is numbed by a local anesthetic, and the gelatinous fluid is withdrawn via syringe. Cysts do recur, and sometimes surgery is required for a permanent solution.

What is dyshidrotic eczema?

Itchy Feet, Eczema on Foot, University Foot and Ankle Institute Los AngelesIf small itchy bumps filled with liquid appear on the bottom of your foot, this is probably what you’ve got. The cause of dyshidrotic eczema is uncertain; the condition may be allergic and/or stress-related. Corticosteroid ointments and antihistamines are helpful, as is stress reduction.

If you are suffering from painful lumps and bumps on your feet, please don’t hesitate to make an appointment with UFAI. The doctors at University Foot and Ankle Institute are here to help. Our nationally recognized podiatrists offer the most advanced foot and ankle care together with the highest success rates in the nation. We are leaders in the field of research and treatment of all foot and ankle conditions.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (877) 736-6001 or visit us at www.footankleinstitute.com.

The UFAI Education Team

The UFAI Education Team

For almost fifteen years, University Foot and Ankle Institute and their nationally recognized physicians have been providing the most technologically advanced medical care for the foot and ankle with the highest success rates in the country.

As a teaching institution, University Foot and Ankle Institute’s Fellowship Program is among the most advanced in the nation.

We at UFAI are driven to get our patients back to their normal activities with the highest level of function, in the least amount of time, using the least invasive treatments possible. From start to finish, we are with you every step of the way.

The UFAI Education Team works to help empower our patients and website visitors with the most up-to-date information about foot and ankle conditions, treatment options, recovery and injury prevention. Our goal is to pass on truly useful information to our readers.

We hope you enjoy our work and find it of value. Please let us know!
The UFAI Education Team

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