Foot Lump

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS

What is foot lump?

A foot lump is a protuberance or localized area of swelling occurring on the foot. Other terms used to describe the various types of lumps include bump, nodule, contusion, tumor and cyst. Foot lumps can be caused by any number of conditions, including infections, inflammation, tumors or trauma. Depending on the cause, lumps may be single or multiple, soft or firm, painful or painless. They may grow rapidly or may not change in size.

Foot lumps due to local infectious causes may appear as boils, or abscesses. Traumatic causes of foot lumps range from bug bites to more severe injuries that can produce a localized collection of blood in the tissues (hematoma). Joint deformities can create a bump on the foot. The common bunion is a tender bump at the base of the great toe due to rotation and sideways angling of the bones that make up the great toe.

Both benign and malignant tumors of the skin, soft tissues, or bones of the feet can sometimes feel like lumps. In these cases, either a biopsy or surgical removal of the foot lump can determine whether cancer is present. Cysts, which are fluid-filled, sac-like structures that can form in various parts of the body, often feel like lumps. Some cysts may be present at birth, while others develop as a result of inflammation, tumors, or wear-and-tear over time.

Conditions that produce inflammation throughout the body, such as rheumatoid arthritis (chronic autoimmune disease characterized by joint inflammation), may be associated with foot lumps.

Foot lumps caused by infection, inflammation or trauma are usually temporary and subside as the underlying condition resolves. Foot lumps that persist or continue to grow over time may signal more serious conditions, such as tumors. If you have a foot lump that is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

What other symptoms might occur with foot lump?

Foot lumps may accompany other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that cause foot lumps may also involve other body systems.

Related localized symptoms that may occur along with a foot lump

A foot lump may be accompanied by other localized symptoms including:

  • Bleeding or bruising
  • Immobility of a joint
  • Localized swelling
  • Pus or discharge
  • Redness and warmth
  • Tenderness or pain

Other symptoms that may occur along with a foot lump

A foot lump may accompany symptoms related to other body systems including:

  • Fever and chills
  • Joint stiffness and pain
  • Weight loss

Symptoms that might indicate a serious condition

In some cases, foot lumps might indicate a serious condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have foot lumps along with other serious symptoms including:

  • Fever and chills
  • Open wound
  • Profuse or uncontrollable bleeding
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Red streaks that extend up the foot or leg

What causes foot lump?

Foot lumps have many possible causes, including trauma, infections, inflammatory diseases, benign cysts and tumors, and cancers.

Traumatic causes of foot lumps

Minor and severe injuries, as well as internal trauma, can result in a localized swelling or lump including:

  • Blood clot (thrombosis)

  • Broken bones

  • Hematoma (collection of blood in body tissues)

  • Sting or bite injuries

Infectious causes of foot lumps

An infection may produce one or more lumps in the form of a localized abscess or as a diffuse enlargement of lymph nodes in the foot. Infectious causes of lumps include:

  • Abscesses

  • Cellulitis (infection of the skin and tissue beneath the skin)

  • Ingrown toenail

  • Papilloma virus infections (warts)

Inflammatory causes of foot lumps

Some conditions that lead to inflammation in the body may produce foot lumps including:

  • Ganglion cyst (growth on a tendon sheath often found in the foot)

  • Gout (type of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid in the joints)

  • Osteoarthritis (type of arthritis characterized by degeneration of the cartilage and bone in the joints)

  • Rheumatic fever (disease characterized by inflammation of the joints and of the connective tissue, especially in the blood vessels and heart)

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (chronic autoimmune disease characterized by joint inflammation)

Tumors that can cause foot lumps

Both benign and malignant tumors can cause foot lumps including:

  • Fibroma (benign tumor composed of fibrous or connective tissue)

  • Lipoma (benign fatty growth)

  • Lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system)

  • Melanoma (cancer arising in the melanocytes, or pigment-producing cells, in the skin or other parts of the body)

  • Nevi (moles of the skin)

  • Nonmelanoma skin cancers

  • Sarcoma (malignant tumor of bone or cartilage)

Serious or life-threatening causes of foot lumps

In some cases, a foot lump may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated by a health care provider. These include:

Questions for diagnosing the cause of a foot lump

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your foot lump including:

  • How long have you had the foot lump?

  • Are you experiencing any other symptoms along with the foot lump?

  • Is the lump getting bigger?

  • Is the lump painful?

  • Do you have lumps anywhere else on your body?

What are the potential complications of foot lumps?

Foot lumps caused by cancer may have life-threatening consequences, which depend on the type and stage (extent) of the cancer. Left untreated, foot lumps due to abscesses or serious infections may lead to widespread infection in the body. Following your treatment plan for serious causes of foot lumps can help reduce your risk of complications including:

  • Amputation

  • Decreased mobility

  • Joint destruction and deformity

  • Necrosis of tissue or gangrene

  • Spread of cancer

  • Spread of infection

  • Ulceration or skin infection

Was this helpful?
  1. Skin rashes and other changes.
  2. Soft tissue tumors - benign. Cedars-Sinai.
  3. Kahan S, Miller R, Smith EG (Eds.). In A Page Signs & Symptoms, 2d ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Williams, 2009.
Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Jan 6
View All Foot Health Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.