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2 min read

Top Causes of Stiff Feet

person relaxing getting a massage on the foot

When you consider that the human foot has more than 100 ligaments, muscles and tendons, along with 33 joints and 26 bones, it’s not surprising that several medical conditions and lifestyle choices can cause stiffness in one or both feet. Sometimes pain or stiffness in the feet is an early indicator of problems in other parts of your body. It’s important to try to determine the cause of foot stiffness and try to remedy the situation rather than working through the pain.


Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, a joint disorder that affects millions of Americans. If you have this condition, it means that the cartilage that protects your joints and helps to give them dexterity is starting to deteriorate. Without the protection of cartilage, joints can feel stiff, achy and sore much of the time.

When osteoarthritis affects the feet, it often starts with joint deterioration in your largest toe. It can make it difficult to bend or move your toe, a condition that forces you to change the way you walk. The changed walking pattern can then cause stiffness throughout the entire foot.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This type of arthritis can cause the arch of your foot to collapse over time, which can lead to stiffness and increased difficulty with mobility. The disease can also cause several other problems with your feet, including an overall feeling of soreness, callouses, bunions, corns and decreased ability to control the actions of your ankle due to joint damage.

If you have either type of arthritis, home remedies such as applying an ice pack to the sorest areas of your foot and taking non-prescription medication can help relieve stiffness. Don’t hesitate to contact Sweeney Foot and Ankle Specialists if you feel uncertain about what is causing your discomfort or your home remedies fail to bring relief.

Stiff Feet Upon Waking Up in the Morning

This is a common problem, especially among both men and women and especially those with mild arthritis. The reason for the foot stiffness when first placing your feet on the floor in the morning is a reduction in fluid that provides lubrication to your joints as well as loss of cartilage in the foot joints. Fortunately, the pain and stiffness usually goes away after taking a few steps. If it does not, you may have another foot issue such as tendonitis or plantar fasciitis.

Problems with Footwear

Shoes that do not fit properly and high-heeled shoes for women are both common causes of foot stiffness. In the latter case, a habit of wearing high-heeled shoes can cause the Achilles tendon to shrink and become painful. This can continue for some time after switching to shoes without a heel or when walking barefoot. The formation of calluses and scars on the connective tissue of the foot’s sole can also lead to painful stiffness.

Wearing shoes that are the right size for your feet with the proper heel and arch support is essential to avoid discomfort. Dr. Sweeney would be happy to recommend a specific type of shoe and/or inserts if you are struggling to find something both comfortable and supportive. We also encourage you to schedule an appointment if you struggle with the above issues or any other type of foot stiffness.

Foot or Ankle Pain? We Can Help!