When it comes to foot pain, everyone is different, but the most common sign is going to be discomfort in one or more parts of the foot. The first thing a foot pain sufferer needs to do is to make sure the source of the pain isn't coming from something that isn't easily fixed, such as an ill-fitting pair of shoes or a high pair of heels. With those common culprits removed from the picture, it's a good idea to notice things like where the pain starts and if it migrates at all, what time of day and during what activity the pain is most acute, a particular event that might have caused the pain, any lingering health concerns that might have attributed to the pain and so on.
The symptoms of foot pain are pretty much common sense. Anything that you feel in your foot that isn't right. Things like swelling that won't go away, random numbness for no apparent reason in the feet, unexplained redness and either the feet being too warm or too cold without any cause. Considering how important your feet are to your basic health and wellbeing, don't' wait for one of these specific symptoms to worsen before you go seek the advice of a doctor.
Diagnosing foot pain is a fairly straight-forward affair. A podiatrist, is a foot specialist, and goes to school for a lot of years to be able to hold someone's foot in their hands and listen to the type of pain you're suffering from and be able to tell you what the problem is. You should expect your doctor to ask you about the types of shoes you wear and what physical activity you engage in that might have resulted in the foot pain. If the doctor is unable to diagnose your condition by touch, medical science has equipped the intrepid doctor with several tools that might just do the job.
X rays are used to take a picture of the inside of your foot using low doses of radiation. While excessive exposure to x-rays has proven to be bad for you, getting an x-ray once in a while won't hurt. The x-ray can tell the doctor if there are small breaks, fractures or fissures that could be causing your foot pain.
MRI machines (magnetic resonance imaging) can be used in the same way as the x-ray to see inside your foot without having to cut you open. The MRI machine uses magnets to make images on a computer screen. The doctor can then tell if there are any problems with the bones and the soft tissue inside the foot. It can also help pinpoint small fractures that might not be clear on the x-ray.
If the doctor thinks it's arthritis that's causing your foot pain, he can request a synovial fluid analysis. Don't let the big medical name fool you, it's a straight forward procedure where the doctor takes fluid samples from the joints in the foot and tests them to see if the surrounding joint is arthritic.
A proper diagnosis is extremely important to ensure that you are properly treating and curing your type of foot pain.