01st April 2023

Pain on Top of Foot: 8 Causes

Dr. Jill Barat, PharmD
Pain on Top of Foot: 8 Causes

1. Recent foot injuries

If you have recently dropped a heavy object on your foot, tripped, or kicked something without proper foot-protecting shoes on, your top of foot pain is likely due to an acute injury.

If the injury is mild the pain at the point of contact should quickly subside and dissipate throughout the course of hours to a few days.

However, if the injury was very forceful, a fracture or more severe injury could have occurred most likely requiring the attention of a professional.

2. Old foot injuries

Old foot injuries may cause long-lasting top-of-foot pain if the injury is still healing, or the injury was not given the appropriate resting time to heal properly.

Follow your doctor’s recommendation for downtime when recovering from foot surgery, a fracture, or an acute foot injury.

3. Extensor Tendonitis 

The extensor tendons run along the top of your feet and they are responsible for contracting and making the feet flex upwards.

Sometimes, when these often-used ligaments become inflamed from overuse or ill-fitting shoes, they can cause significant top-of-foot pain.

4. Rolling your ankle

The foot has lots of tendons and ligaments that connect all parts of the foot together.

Sometimes, if you roll your ankle, this will pull on the connected bones at the top of the foot and cause pain in that area as well.

5. Ganglion cysts

Sometimes, tiny fluid-filled cysts can form on the top of the foot.

These cysts may be able to be felt as a tiny bump on the top of the foot, and while some are not painful, if the cyst is putting pressure on bones, ligaments, and tendons of the foot, this can cause pain on the top of the foot.

6. Arthritis 

Arthritis is a group of diseases that have to do with inflammation or bone overgrowth at the site of joints.

Since the feet have upwards of 30 joints in each foot, arthritis in the foot can be felt widely throughout the whole structure.

Properly managing your arthritis with medications, anti-inflammatories, creams, or properly fitting shoes may help reduce chronic foot pain caused by arthritis.

7. Diabetes

While it may be difficult to see the connection between a pancreas and insulin disease and foot issues, diabetics are among the most common groups of people to present with foot pain and diseases.

Diabetes exacerbates foot conditions by causing poor circulation, delayed wound healing, and nerve pain that is commonly found in the legs.

Sometimes, this nerve pain, called neuropathy, can radiate and extend into the nerves in the feet causing an uncomfortable tingling, prickling, or numb sensation characteristic of nerve pain.

8. Gout

Gout is a disease characterized by the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints that can sometimes cause excruciating pain.

The most common location for gout pain is the big toe, and often this pain can radiate up the top of the foot.

Strict adherence to gout medications and preventative diets may help reduce top-of-foot pain related to gout.

When to see a doctor about top-of-foot pain

If you ever have top-of-foot pain that is severe or it last for a week or longer, you will likely want to go in and see a doctor to make sure it isn’t something serious.

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.