What Does It Mean When Your Toes Hurt
An ingrown toenail is a common condition and its exactly what it sounds like. Its a toenail that has grown into the skin around it. Big toes are usually where ingrown toenails happen, but other toes can be affected, too.
The main symptom of an ingrown toenail is pain from the nail growing into the skin rather than over it. But it can also become swollen and red, and drain fluid, if it gets infected.
Oftentimes, an ingrown toenail can be treated at home by following a toe soaking routine. But if your toenail appears to be infected, the pain is increasing or severe, or the home routine doesnt appear to be working after a couple days, make an appointment with a podiatrist. They may be able to remove the ingrown toenail during an office visit.
Bunions develop on the outside edge of the big toe. They look like a bony bump at the base of your toe joint. But the earliest signs of a bunion are often pain, tenderness, swelling or irritation around your big toe joint.
Bunion treatment often focuses on relieving bunion pain, starting with more conservative treatments. This may mean a combination of using pads or inserts to reduce pressure on the big toe, or taking certain over-the-counter medications to reduce swelling and ease discomfort. When conservative treatments stop working or bunions start to make daily activities difficult, bunion surgery can be an option.
Four Conditions That Cause Pain On Top Of The Foot Near The Ankle
Pain on the top of your foot near the ankle can make you want to stay off your feet, forcing you to miss out on your favorite activities in life. There are a number of reasons you might be experiencing pain in this part of your foot. Take a moment to learn about what could be the cause of your pain, and find out how physical therapy can help:
How Are Foot Or Ankle Problems Diagnosed
A healthcare professional will usually make their diagnosis after examining your feet. They will look for signs of swelling and any structural changes that could be causing the pain. You may also be asked to walk about, to see whether the problem affects your movement and posture.
Most of the time they can make a diagnosis without scans, x-rays or blood tests, unless they think your pain is being caused by a condition, such as arthritis.
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Common Causes Of Foot Pain
Foot pain often stems from one of the following issues:
- Trauma Injuries can be acute, coming on suddenly like an ankle sprain, foot fracture or an Achilles tendon rupture. Sometimes trauma from an injury plus normal wear and tear from long-term, repetitive use can lead to chronic conditions like tendonitis.
- Deformities From genetics to the way we walk and the shoes we wear, there are several things that can lead to foot deformities such as bunions, hammertoes, claw toes and bone spurs.
- Diabetes High blood sugar levels can cause nerve damage throughout the body, but most often in the feet and legs. High blood sugar can also lead to foot ulcers.
- Wearing ill-fitting shoes Our footwear choices can have a big impact on our feet, depending on how they fit and distribute pressure.
- Viruses, fungi, bacteria or infections Warts, athletes foot and fungal nail infections are all examples of infectious diseases that can lead to foot pain.
- Arthritis Our feet and ankles have many joints and all are prone to developing arthritis. Arthritis can lead to daily pain for some, and be related to old injuries, bone spurs, normal wear and tear, and more.
Dorsal Foot Pain Symptoms
Depending on the origins of your dorsal foot pain, several other corresponding symptoms may also be present in this area. These include, but are not limited to:
- Redness or warmth in the forefoot or toes
- Extreme sensitivity and difficulty putting on a sock or shoe
- Swelling in the foot, ankle, or toes
- A palpable nodule on the top of the foot
- Limited range of motion in the foot or toes
- Difficulty standing, walking, or climbing stairs
- Numbness or tingling in the foot or toes
- Bruising on the bottom of the foot
Some of these symptoms are unique to a particular diagnosis, while others can be seen with numerous causes of dorsal foot pain. A formal evaluation by a healthcare provider is the most accurate way to determine a true diagnosis. That said, keeping track of your symptoms and when they originated can help you hone in on the potential cause of your condition.
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How Do Doctors Treat Tendonitis
If your home treatment doesn’t help your foot after two or three days, you should contact a doctor.
Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription-strength medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs . Aspirin and ibuprofen are among the most common ones. These are available as oral and topical medications. Your doctor may also want you to have a corticosteroid injection, a steroid shot, to reduce inflammation.
Your doctor may also recommend a platelet-rich plasma treatment. In this treatment, doctors take your own blood, take out the blood fragments known as platelets, and then inject the platelets into the affected area. Experts are still studying this treatment, but many agree that it shows promise for treating chronic tendon pain.
Physical therapy may help to strengthen your muscles and stretch your extensor tendons to reduce pain.
If you have tried the above treatments and you still have tendon pain, your doctor may recommend dry needling. During this procedure, a doctor inserts a needle into the tendon to stop further damage and promote healing.
If scar tissue is causing your tendonitis, an ultrasonic wave device can help remove scar tissue and ease your pain.
If you have severe tendonitis, and the tendon has started to pull away from the bone, surgery may be required.
Fracture Of Fifth Metatarsal
Pain on the outside of the top of the foot is often related to the fifth metatarsal. This is a long bone that connects the little toe to the middle of the foot.
Several types of fractures may occur in the fifth metatarsal:
- Avulsion fracture: This occurs when a tendon or ligament pulls a small piece of the fifth metatarsal out of place. An avulsion fracture often occurs with an ankle roll injury and may happen along with an ankle sprain.
- Jones fracture: This type of break often occurs near the top of the fifth metatarsal, close to the outside and middle area of the foot. It can be a small hairline fracture caused by repeated stress and strain on the foot, or it can be a more severe break due to an injury or fall.
- Midshaft fracture: This type of break is often due to an accident or twisting of the foot. It occurs near the middle of the fifth metatarsal.
Fifth metatarsal breaks usually require medical care. Staying off the foot and using RICE is recommended right after the injury. Additional care, such as a cast, boot, or crutches, may also be required.
Surgery can be recommended if:
- the bone is displaced
- there are multiple breaks in the fifth metatarsal or other areas of the foot
- the fracture is not healing as expected
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Foot Pain Right Away In The Morning
Even if youre not a morning person who jumps out of bed with a smile to start the day, you should not be in pain when you step out of bed. Shooting pain in your foot or ankle right away in the morning is most often a sign of plantar fasciitis. This condition caused by inflammation of the tendons that connect your heel to your toes. Other causes of morning foot pain could include:
- Ill-fitting shoes
While there are aches and pains that dont warrant a visit to the doctors office, it is always better to err on the side of caution. If you have persistent foot or ankle pain that lasts longer than a week, make an appointment to come in and see the experts at Orthopedic Institute.
Not sure you need an appointment right now? Check out these everyday tips for fighting off foot and ankle pain.
How Is The Pain Diagnosed
If you have persistent foot pain that lasts longer than a week despite home treatment, you should make an appointment to see your doctor. You should also call your doctor if your pain is severe enough to keep you from walking, or if you have burning pain, numbness, or tingling on the affected foot. You can call your general practitioner, who may refer you to a podiatrist.
When you make an appointment with your doctor, theyll ask you about any other symptoms and potential ways your foot could have been injured. They may ask about your physical activity and any past injuries to your feet or ankle.
Your doctor will then examine your foot. They may press on different areas on the foot to see where you feel pain. They may also ask you to walk and perform exercises like rolling your foot to evaluate your range of motion.
To test for extensor tendonitis, your doctor will ask you to flex your foot downwards, and then try to pull your toes up while you resist. If you feel pain, extensor tendonitis is likely the cause.
If your doctor suspects a broken bone, fracture, or bone spurs, theyll order an X-ray of the foot.
Other tests your doctor may run include:
- blood tests, which can identify conditions such as gout
- an MRI to look for damage of the peroneal nerve
Because our feet support our entire body weight, a mild injury could become a more extensive one if it goes untreated. Seeking prompt treatment if you suspect an injury is important.
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Treating Top Of Foot Pain Conservatively And Avoiding Surgery
In the case of dorsal compression, when the foot flattens as you step, the bones on top of the foot compress together which causes pain. The first goal in treating this pain is to limit flattening of the arch so the bones wont compress against each other. Proper arch supports and proper footwear design help drastically.
Also, avoid going barefoot even around the house. We may also recommend topical pain relievers and icing. If you take this advice and follow our home treatment plan below, you should experience relief within a week or two if you have dorsal compression. Even if you have foot arthritis, these changes should help bring some pain relief.
Symptoms Of Extensor Tendonitis Include:
- Pain localized to the top of the foot
- Pain worsens with activity
- Crepitus or crackling noise at the affected tendon site
- Stiffness of the joint
- Redness, warmth or swelling
Note: Numbness may be a sign of a more serious condition, compartment syndrome. Diagnosing extensor tendonitis requires a physical exam by a DOC orthopedist who will discuss the guests history of pain and symptoms. The doctor may order X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging to view the bones, muscles, and tendons around the injury and confirm the diagnosis.
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When Should You See A Doctor About Your Pain In Front Of Ankle And Top Of Foot
When is it time to seek medical attention for this type of pain? Pain can be caused by many different things like arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis or even bone spasm.
The best way to know if your symptoms are serious enough that they warrant seeing the doctor would be asking yourself some questions such as:
Is my ankle hurting when I bend at all angles? or Does tingling occur down my leg only during periods where movement occurs between these times? or Have there been any changes to the level of pain?!
These types of inquiries can help determine if there may be something else going on besides just plain old soreness from overuse which could lead to further damage.
What Can I Do To Relieve My Foot And Ankle Pain
Soft tissue takes time to heal, but there are a number of things you can do to help speed up the process:
- Exercises help to relieve pain by loosening up the soft tissues in your feet. Tightness in the Achilles tendon can often have a knock-on effect on the plantar fascia, so these areas are particularly important to target. Read on for a list of suggested exercises to ease your pain
- Resting your feet wherever possible by not running, walking or standing for too long can help to avoid any more inflammation
- Wearing comfortable shoes with good arch support will also reduce the strain on your feet
- Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can help to control the pain. Ibuprofen is also an anti-inflammatory meaning it will help to relieve any swelling. Taking these as tablets or using anti-inflammatory creams can both be helpful. Remember to not take more than the recommended dose
- Ice packs pressed against the bottom of the foot can help to reduce swelling. Do not apply ice directly to the skin instead, try wrapping the pack in a tea towel
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How Top Of The Foot Pain And Swelling Diagnosed
If you have continual foot pain that lasts lengthier than a week despite the home approach, make an appointment to see your physician.
When you make a consultation with your physician, theyll ask you about any other symptoms and potential ways it could have injured your foot. They may seek about your physical activity and any past damages to your feet or ankle. Your physician will then review your foot. They may press on various areas on the foot to see where you feel pain.
Then, they will review your foot for any symptoms of swelling or deformity. They will study at you walking and then review at the movement and strength in and evaluate the range of motion.
To check for extensor tendonitis, your physician will ask you to flex your foot downwards, and then try to pull your toes up while they resist. If you feel pain, extensor tendonitis is possible the origin of top of the foot pain.
If your physician assumes a broken bone, fracture, or bone spurs, theyll conduct an X-ray of the foot.Other tests your physician may run comprise:
- Blood tests, which can analyze conditions such as gout
- An MRI for damage to the peroneal nerve
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Shoes For Pain At The Front Of The Ankle
The type of shoe you wear canmake a big difference too. I see a lot of runners with this type of pain, andoften what well see is theyre wearing a shoe that has a lower drop. A lowdrop shoe is one where the heel and the front of the foot are at about the samelevel. If they are on exactly the same level that is called a zero-drop shoe.
If you instead use a shoe with a greater drop that will lift up the heel and, once again, what that does is it decreases compression between the leg bone and the ankle bone. If that bone spur is present, it can really get rid of that pain quite effectively.
The Brooks Addiction Running Shoeis a great shoe with a 1cm drop that works well for a lot of walkers and runners.
The Brooks Addiction Walkeris a leather walking shoe with otherwise the same features. Either shoe will work to help anterior ankle pain
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Hammer Claw & Mallet Toe
There are three common toe deformities that cause top of foot pain by altering the positions of the small bones
The most common symptoms of these toe deformities are abnormal curling of one or more toe which may or may not be accompanied by stiffness and pain.
Toe deformities often develop from wearing tight, pointed shoes but may also be caused by a toe injury, problems in nerves or blood vessels or arthritis
Find out all about these common toe deformities, how to tell which one you have and how to treatment them Hammer, Mallet, Claw Toes section.
Risk Factors Of Tendonitis
Tendonitis causes pain because the tendon gets inflamed with repetitive activity. Anyone can develop tendonitis, but certain factors may make the condition more likely. Your foot or ankle pain could be a sign of tendonitis, particularly if you:
- Play sports with repetitive foot movements
- Are over 40 years old
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Three Ways To Ease Top Of Foot Pain
There are many different causes of top of foot pain from bone spurs, to stress fractures, to todays topic, extensor tendonitis.
If you stand for long periods of time, run or walk on uneven surfaces, or wear shoes that are too tight, extensor tendonitis could be the cause of your top of foot pain. You might have extensor tendonitis if the top of your foot hurts in the middle between your ankle and the ball of your foot. Other symptoms of the common cause of top of foot pain include:
- Tight calf muscles
- Pain in the centre of your foot
- Swelling on the top of your foot
- Bruising, swelling or redness on the top of your foot
If you think you might have extensor tendonitis we recommend getting an assessment from a qualified physiotherapist. But, in the meantime, here are three easy ways to ease your top of foot pain at home.