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Top of Foot Pain: What Causes It?

Top of foot pain might not occur to the average person as a serious problem.

But once severe pain hits, they will realize how pain in the top of the foot can affect their life. 

In this article, we will discuss the most common causes of top of foot pain, such as foot injuries or an underlying health condition, and the best methods to relieve pain in the foot.

Injuries That Cause Foot Pain

The average foot injury should not cause intense pain.

However, pain worse than normal often indicates a severe injury, which may be one of the following:

Stress Fracture

Stress fractures are tiny cracks in the bone usually caused by excess stress or excessive pressure, such as overuse of the foot or dropping a heavy object on top of the foot.

They are commonly found in the bones of the foot and lower leg. 

Stress fractures are typically found in only one foot, but it’s often best to cease all weight-bearing activity because a stress fracture will worsen if you put your entire weight on it.

Peroneal Nerve Injury

Also known as common peroneal nerve dysfunction is nerve damage to the peroneal nerve, which branches from the sciatic nerve and runs down the fibula bone to the foot.

It can be damaged through knee injuries or nerve compression by a tumor or cyst. 

Symptoms include pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the affected area, as well as “foot drop,” a condition in which patients cannot raise the front part of their foot.

Ankle Sprains

A sprain is when one or more ligaments are overstretched and tear.

For example, an ankle sprain is usually caused by the foot landing awkwardly or on an uneven surface, causing it to twist or roll and the ankle ligament(s) to snap.

Wearing shoes that are too tight or have high heels for too long can damage the joints in your big toe, metatarsal bones, ankle, and heel.

In addition, if you are not used to them, they can contribute to a sprained ankle. The best way to avoid pain on top of the foot is to wear supportive shoes.

Health Conditions That Cause Foot Pain

Often the underlying cause of top of foot pain can be a medical condition of which the patient was previously unaware.

Common conditions that cause you to experience pain on top of the foot are as follows.

Extensor Tendonitis

Inflammation of the extensor tendons stretches over the top of the foot. It is typically caused by overexertion, such as walking or running for long periods or ill-fitting shoes.

Symptoms include sharp pain, weakness in the top of the affected foot, and difficulty moving the toes.

Bone Spurs

Also known as osteophytes, bone spurs are painful growths on bones that rub against joints, common in osteoarthritis patients and the elderly.

Aside from pain on top of the foot, other symptoms include knobs or bumps under the skin, numbness and difficulty moving, tendonitis, or torn tendons.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Damage to the peripheral nervous system, the part of the nervous system outside the brain and spinal cord.

In addition to the loss of balance and coordination and injuries that do not heal, symptoms include pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling in the feet and hands.

Vascular Claudication

Vascular claudication is a condition caused by blockages in the blood vessels of the leg or foot. 

Additional symptoms include pain, redness, and numbness or weakness.

Sinus Tarsi Syndrome

This syndrome is a secondary condition caused by injuries to the ankle and characterized by inflamed sinus tarsi, the tube connecting the talus bone, and the calcaneus bone (heel bone).

Even if the patient is unfamiliar with the terminology, they should be able to pinpoint the exact spot from which their deep-set chronic pain originates. 

Other symptoms include swelling or bruising in the foot, foot turned unnaturally in or out, loss of balance or feelings of instability when putting weight on the foot, and difficulty walking on uneven surfaces.

Pain Relief for Top of Foot Pain

Whether a doctor suspects that injuries or other conditions cause the patient’s foot pain, they will likely offer treatment options like the following to keep the feet healthy. 

While a visit to the doctor’s office and such methods as blood tests or a foot X-ray may be necessary for an accurate diagnosis, many common remedies are home treatments that do not require a stay in the hospital.

There are simple ways to cure any injuries and conditions described above or at least reduce pain.

These include equipment such as a specialized walking boot, anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation for conditions such as extensor tendonitis, and strength training or other physical activity used for rehabilitation and physical therapy.

If you feel pain on top of the foot, even if it is only a dull ache, do not ignore it. Healthy feet do not hurt. 

Consult a doctor as soon as possible to ensure foot problems do not worsen. 

Remember, do not wear high heels or tight shoes for too long. Instead, wear shoes that give your feet support.

Also, regularly tilt your foot upwards when you sit or lay down: elevation is a treatment for foot pain or swelling.

Final Thoughts

If you’re experiencing pain in the top of your foot, physical therapy may be the way to go.

Paspa Physical Therapy is located in Manhattan to assist with all your physical therapy-related needs.

Contact us today to discuss options for the treatment of your foot pain.

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