top of foot pain
AUTHOR: Marc Mitnick DPM
REVIEWED BY: Podiatric Medical Review Board
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The purpose of this page is to give you information seekers an easier way to diagnose your pain on the top of the foot. I have noticed that many people use top of foot pain as their "search" term. by knowing the location of your pain it becomes easier to determine its source.
Although my homepage has a Foot-Pain-Finder which helps you identify the type of pain you may be suffering from, I thought a page listing specific symptoms on top of the foot would make things simpler.
I have listed the more common problems that we foot specialists see on a regular basis, but this list is not all inclusive. Some of these conditions have separate pages which discuss them, a few of them do not (at least at this point in time).
Hopefully this will help you in your search for answers.
tendonitis Diffuse pain on top of the foot which may also include swelling and even redness. There may or may not be a history of trauma.
ganglion cyst A spongy to firm lump on top of the foot that may or may not be freely moveable. The lump itself may not be painful on pressure, but pressing on it may cause pain beneath it.
midtarsal fault In people whose feet have a tendency to collapse (fallen arches), there ends up being a jamming of the bones on top of your foot that will lead to pain, with or without shoes. Generally, there will be no history of trauma.
nerve entrapment There are small nerves running from the ankle down to the toes that are located right under the skin. These are sensory nerves (which give us feeling on the top of the foot). It is not uncommon for these nerves to become traumatized from the pressure of a shoe (mainly tied too tight) putting pressure on the nerve which is then "jammed" into a bony projection underneath it. This nerve is then entrapped and it becomes inflamed and thus painful or in some cases there will be numbness on part of the top of the foot.
stress fracture Without any history of trauma, a person can develop severe pain on the top of the foot usually in the metatarsal area. It will be a localized pain, possibly with some swelling and perhaps redness.
bone spur A bone spur in the foot is usually a result of arthritic changes in the foot, bone will overgrow and produce abnormal protrusions on top of the foot. Either damage to the specific joint or pressure from your shoe on the overgrowth of bone (bone spur) will cause pain.
superficial phlebitis Many of the veins on the top of the foot are directly underneath the skin. Since the foot is subject to trauma every step you take, at times the superficial veins will become inflamed and develop a superficial phlebitis. This is not as dangerous as a deep vein phlebitis seen in the leg, but medical care is warranted.
Johns Hopkins Medicine
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