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25th November 2022

Pain on Outside of Foot: 8 Things That Might Be Causing It

Dr. Jill Barat, PharmD
Pain on Outside of Foot: 8 Things That Might Be Causing It

Having pain that runs along the outside of your foot can end up affecting your mobility, making it painful or difficult to walk or stand.

There are multiple conditions that can present as a painful sensation along the outside of your foot, so how do you know which one is causing you trouble?

The best way to get a proper diagnosis would be to have a doctor’s visit.

But, in this article, we will cover some of the most common causes of pain on the outside of the foot, to help you get an idea of what might be going on.

 

1. Arthritis

Arthritis can occur anywhere where you have joints, so your feet are no exception.

The pain can sometimes be felt running down the outside of the foot due to increased inflammation from Rheumatoid or Osteoarthritis.

The most common symptoms of arthritis in the feet include:

  • Pain when foot in motion

  • Pain that gets worse with vigorous activity

  • Tenderness when pressure is applied

  • Redness, warmth, and swelling around a joint

  • Worsened pain or swelling in the morning or after resting

  • Difficulty walking

 

 

2. Peroneal tendonitis

 

Peroneal tendonitis is the inflammation of a tendon that runs down your shins, wraps around your ankles, and ends on the outer side of your feet.

When this tendon becomes inflamed from excessive running, abnormal walking positions, a muscle imbalance in the legs,  or collateral damage from an ankle injury, the first sign may be difficulty walking that gets progressively worse.

The most common symptoms of peroneal tendonitis are:

  • Pain at the back of the ankle

  • Pain that gets worse with activity, but better when at rest

  • Pain when turning the foot

  • Swelling around the ankle

  • Feeling of instability when standing

  • Warmth around the area

 

3. Ankle sprain

When you sprain or “twist” your ankle, you normally accidentally roll your foot underneath the ankle.

This movement can cause the ligament on the outside of the foot to stretch or tear, causing a lingering pain on the outside of the foot.

Most people who have had an ankle sprain can pinpoint the exact accidental movement when the injury occurred, such as slipping, taking a “misstep”, or playing sports.

The most common symptoms of an ankle sprain are:

  • Pain

  • Swelling

  • Tenderness

  • Bruised ankle

 

4. Cuboid syndrome

The cuboid bone is a square-ish-shaped bone located amidst other bones in the mid-upper side of the outside of your foot.

Cuboid syndrome occurs when there is a partial dislocation of the bones in this area which causes the cuboid bone to move down and out of alignment.

Cuboid syndrome is most common in athletes, but may also occur during an ankle sprain injury, or walks with their feet turned inward (protonation).

The most common symptoms of cuboid syndrome include:

  • Pain on the outside of the foot

  • Pain that worsens when putting weight on the foot

  • A dull, aching pain, or a sharp, stabbing pain

  • Trouble walking

  • Difficulty hopping

  • Worsened pain when lifting the heel and pushing off toes

  • Swelling

  • Reduced range of motion

  • Bottom of feet sensitivity

  • Possible pain sensations around the ankle from referred pain

 

5. Stress fracture

Stress fractures are tiny breaks in the bones of the feet that are so minor they are not nearly as painful as full breaks but may cause increasing discomfort around the area.

Stress fractures occur most often during athletics, especially in people who just drastically increased their activity levels.

The most common symptoms of a stress fracture are:

  • Progressively increasing pain

  • Pain worsens with activity

  • Swelling and tenderness around the fracture area


6. Bunions

Bunions occur when the big toe starts abnormally leaning in towards the other toes, leaving a bony protrusion sticking out under the large toe.

Eventually, this may cause pain when standing or walking due to the normal structure of the feet bones being displaced.

Bunions can happen from wearing shoes that do not fit properly, develop from an inflammatory condition, or they can be inherited from your family. 

The most common symptoms of bunions include:

  • Large toe leaning inward

  • Large bony bump underneath the big toe

  • Increased pain and deformity

  • Potentially crossed-over toes

  • Redness

7. Corns & Calluses

Corns and calluses occur when the skin produces multiple tough layers in one area, calluses tend to feel rough, but rarely cause pain, but corns may put pressure on the inside of the feet and be painful.

These can both occur from excess friction in an area of the outside of the feet, due to improper footwear, excessive usage, or any reason for excess friction on the outside of the feet.

The main symptoms of corns and calluses are:

  • Thick hardened patches of skin

  • Corns may be smaller, yellowed, painful, and more rounded


8. Tarsal coalition

Tarsal coalition is a condition that develops when there is an abnormal connection between two or more of the bones towards the back of the foot.

The bones with tarsal coalition abnormal formation normally are present from birth, although symptoms may not present until much later in life.

The most common symptoms of tarsal coalition are:

  • Pain when walking or standing

  • Fatigued legs

  • Muscle spasms that make the foot turn outward

  • Flat feet

  • Limping

  • Foot and ankle stiffness

 

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