Foot Pain in Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Is it a Symptom or Something Else?

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When you have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, pain can hit anywhere, at any intensity, for any length of time. Sometimes you can foresee that a certain thing will trigger a certain pain, but it's largely unpredictable.

While all kinds of pain are unpleasant, some have a bigger impact on your life. Chief among these is foot pain -- something many of us have to deal with. Some readers have said:

  • "The bottoms of my feet felt like they were on fire. These pains come and go, sometimes [lasting] for months."
  • "[I] can't wear a flip flop or any kind of shoe."
  • "I can't stand to touch my bare feet to the floor. I have to wear memory foam slippers around the house."

During a flare of foot pain, you may find that just resting your foot on the floor causes a burning pain. Shoes can hurt not only on the soles of your feet but the tops as well. Walking? Agony. Stepping on an electrical cord can feel like being cut by a razor blade. A common complaint is waking up with feet that feel like you've been walking for hours.

Foot pain is a major problem. When every step is agony, it makes it hard to do much of anything. When you're already limited because of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, you hardly need one more thing to keep you from doing what you want or need to do.

What Triggers Foot Pain?

It's anyone's guess what triggers foot pain in us.

It's not a symptom that has been researched at all, other than one study (Friend) documenting that foot pain is common in fibromyalgia.

In fact, that study found that about 50 percent of people with fibromyalgia report pain in one or both feet. That seems like a lot of us, but the same study showed that 91 percent have neck pain 79 percent experience hip pain.

In fact, the feet were among the least likely places to hurt.

Still, it's important to look at foot pain because your ability to walk has a big impact on how functional you can be. Foot pain can make you walk differently, which can lead to back, hip and knee problems.

Some research (Liptan) suggests that fibromyalgia involves inflammation of the fascia, which is a thin layer of connective tissue that runs throughout your entire body.

You've probably heard of the condition plantar fasciitis, which is caused by inflammation of a band of fascia that runs along the bottom of your foot, helping support the arch. We don't know anything for sure yet, but some people speculate that plantar fasciitis is a symptom or a common overlapping condition with fibromyalgia.

For more information on plantar fasciitis, see:

It's possible that, for some of us, foot pain is caused purely by fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. Our nerves are highly sensitive, and few areas take a beating like our feet.

It stands to reason that they could hurt "just" because the nerves got riled up.

However, foot pain can come from a lot of causes, and your fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome would amplify the pain. Some common overlapping conditions that could cause foot pain include:

Foot pain can also come from a lot of other sources that have nothing to do with fibromyalgia. You may have an injury or a repetitive stress problem such as:

If you have foot pain that is persistent or limits your ability to function, be sure to talk to your doctor about it. We can get used to the idea that we just have to live with pain, but it's possible that your doctor may be able to diagnose and treat your foot pain successfully.

Easing Your Foot Pain

When foot pain is caused by an injury or an overlapping condition, your doctor can help you find the right treatment.

Otherwise, you'll need to find ways to manage it. The following is a list of things that have helped some people with these conditions ease their foot pain (remember than these are only personal experiences and they might not work for you):

  • Soft, well-cushioned slippers,
  • Thick socks or diabetic socks,
  • Soft-soled shoes,
  • Soaking in hot water and Epsom salts,
  • Gentle stretching,
  • Extremely gentle massage,
  • Cooling lotion,
  • Orthotics.

A 2012 study on custom orthotics (Ferrari) suggested that they may help people with fibromyalgia function better overall. (It did not look specifically at foot pain.)

It's likely to take some time and experimentation to find the best way(s) to relieve your foot pain.


Ferrari R. Clinical rheumatology. 2012 Jul;31(7):1041-5. A cohort-controlled trial of the addition of customized foot orthotics to standard care in fibromyalgia.

Friend R, Bennett RM. Arthritis research and therapy. 2011 Apr 8;13(2):R58. Distinguishing fibromyalgia from rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus in clinical questionnaires: an analysis of the revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR) and its variant, the Symptom Impact Questionnaire (SIQR), along with pain locations.

Liptan, GL. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies. 2010 Jan;14(1):3-12. Fascia: A missing link in our understanding of the pathology of fibromyalgia.

Shookster L, et al. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association. 2004 Jul-Aug;94(4):400-3. Fibromyalgia and Tinel's sign in the foot.

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