5 Causes of Pain on Top of The Foot

Have you ever wondered why every other part of the foot has a specific name, except for the top of the foot? Years ago, my uncle and I came up with calling it the “fan of the foot” but it didn’t catch on. No matter what you call it, there are times where the top of your foot is hurts. Sometimes it’s after a long walk or a run. Other times it might hurt when you’re sitting around. To help, I thought I’d review the top five reasons why the top of your foot is hurting.

  1. Bone Spurs

There are two areas on the top of your foot where bone spurs are most common. One is on the top of your great toe joint. The other is in the middle of your foot. Both types of bone spurs cause pressure in shoes and make tighter shoes more painful to wear. This is because the bone spur forms a bump on top of your foot.

Causes of Bone Spur on Top of Your Foot

Bone spurs are caused by pressure or tension on your bone. Your bone responds to the tension by forming new bone. This becomes a bone spur. Sometimes it’s due to trauma, like if you jam your great toe joint. Other times it is caused by your natural mechanics that puts extra stress on the bone.

Treatment for Bone Spurs on Top of Your Foot

To start, the painful lump on top of your foot will be treated by using anti-inflammatory medication. An injection of cortisone may also be helpful. To reduce the pressure in your shoes, you can alter the lacing pattern of your shoes. If your pain continues, you may need the bone spur to be removed surgically.

  1. Tendonitis

Your foot has lots of tendons that come through the top of it to allow you to walk and run. These tendons may working too hard and can become painful. This is due to the natural mechanics of your feet.

Causes of Tendonitis on Top of Your Foot

The group of tendons that come through the top of your foot are the extensor tendons. They are responsible for lifting your foot as your foot swings to the next step. They also lower your foot to the ground after your heel strikes. If the tendon is overused, it will become inflamed and becomes tendonitis. This will lead to the pain on the top of your foot or the front of your ankle.

Treatment for Tendonitis on Top of Your Foot

Because the tendons on the top of your foot are close to the skin, your first step should be to apply ice to your foot. Icing for 15-20 minutes will serve as a natural anti-inflammatory. Anti-inflammatory medication would also be helpful. In the office, I may recommend a cortisone injection. I also may recommend the use of a custom orthotic to help to stabilize your gait and allow the tendons to relax.

  1. Stress Fractures

Your feet have to carry you no matter how much or how far you walk or run. This leads to pressure on the bones in your foot. Constant pressure can cause a bone to break. This is a stress fracture.

Causes of Stress Fractures

A stress fracture occurs when there is constant or repetitive pressure on a bone in your foot. The pressure causes a hairline crack to form in the bone, which is the stress fracture. The fracture will cause your foot to swell and become painful.

Treatment for Stress Fractures of Your Foot

A stress fracture is serious, and we must treat it immediately. If you wait to treat a stress fracture, it could fully break, become displaced, and may need surgery to repair it. If a stress fracture is found early, you will need to immobilize the foot in a fracture boot until the bone heals. Once healed, you should consider treatment with a custom orthotic. This will manage the pressures in your foot to prevent another stress fracture in the future.

  1. Gout Attack of Your Foot

Gout is a buildup of uric acid crystals in a joint. Uric acid is formed by the breakdown of protein. People who suffer from gout have too much of a uric acid buildup. Others have difficulty excreting uric acid. Gout causes severe pain and swelling in the great toe joint.

Causes of Gout Attack of Your Foot

You may have a family history of gout. I see that a lot. That alone predisposes you to severe gout attacks. Gout has a lot to do with diet. Red meat, shellfish, and organ meat all break down to high levels of uric acid. If you’re dehydrated, it can also set off a gout attack.

Treatment for a Gout Attack of Your Foot

The first goal of treating your pain from a gout attack is to reduce the inflammation. I will need you to come into the office to be able to diagnose that you have gout. Once diagnosed, I will prescribe strong anti-inflammatory medication. The good news is that it works pretty quickly. If you have had a series of gout attacks, it’s worth considering taking a medication to minimize the chances of future flare-ups.

  1. Arthritis

Our feet are taking all the pressure from standing, walking, and running. This puts a tremendous amount of stress on them. Because of that, the joints could start to break down and cause arthritis to form.

Causes of Foot Arthritis

Arthritis is the degeneration of the cartilage in the joints of your feet. The mechanical breakdown over time is osteoarthritis and occurs after an injury. It can also be caused by breakdown over time. Other forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, can also affect the feet.

Treatment for Foot Arthritis

Unfortunately, there is no way to reverse arthritis. Depending on how bad your arthritis is, it can be treated many ways. For starters, taking an anti-inflammatory can reduce the pain caused by arthritis. I may also recommend a custom orthotic to stabilize the joints. In severe cases, you may benefit from surgery to either remove the excess bone or fuse the arthritic joints.

If any of these causes of pain on the top of your foot resonates with you, it’s time to schedule a visit to get it checked out. We installed state-of-the-art digital x-ray to be able to image your foot to make sure that everything is okay. You know me, we’ll discuss everything and answer your questions before we do anything at all.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.