What Else Can Help
Understanding what is causing your foot pain is the first step to treating it. Each foot pain diagram here is a useful visual tool for diagnosing what is wrong in your foot or ankle.
Once you have identified the cause of your problem from these foot pain diagrams, you can find out loads more about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options for each by using the links above.
There are other conditions that cause foot and ankle pain not seen on the foot pain diagrams here such as Trench Foot and Foot Cramps but these tend to give more general symptoms throughout the foot rather than causing pain in specific places as shown on these foot pain diagnosis charts. You can find out loads more about these in the Common Causes of Foot Pain section.
What Causes Extensor Tendonitis In The Foot
Most cases of tendonitis are from repetitive motion and develop over time. However, they can also occur because of a sudden injury.
Extensor tendonitis, in particular, may be caused by:
- Shoes that are too small or tight
- Doing too many uphill workouts and not enough downhill ones
- Running on an unstable surface
How Can I Treat Foot Or Ankle Pain When It Starts
Most foot or ankle pain can be treated without the need to see a healthcare professional.
Soft-tissue injuries should begin to improve over the first few days with the help of some simple self-care tips. You may need to be careful and protect the injured area for several months, until it has fully recovered.
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Treating Top Of The Foot Pain And Swelling
Remedy for pain on top of the foot will depend on the underlying cause. If it is a minor problem with minimal pain and swelling, you can usually treat yourself at home with RICE Protocol, Non-Steroidal-Anti-inflammatory Drugs, and gentle exercises.
If the pain is more extreme, is becoming worse, there is marked swelling or you cannot bear weight, see your physician. Because our feet hold our entire body weight, a mild injury could develop into a more extensive one if it goes untreated. Treatment depends on determining the cause of the condition and may comprise:
- Physical therapy, which can help treat conditions such as peripheral neuropathy, extensor tendonitis, and damage to the peroneal nerve
- A cast or walking boot for injuries such as broken bones or fractures
- NSAIDs or other anti-inflammatory drugs, which can help reduce inflammation, including inflammation from gout
- Surgery is very rare case.
- Home treatment
Home treatment can help with foot pain at most times. It would help if you rest the affected foot as much as possible. You can apply ice to the affected area in the acute phase for twenty minutes at a time or as you tolerate. Also, you may apply alternate cold & hot therapy wrap after 72 hours of injury and 3 times a day. When you have to walk, put on supportive, smooth-fitting shoes that arent too tight.
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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Medial Malleolar Stress Fracture
The medial malleolus is the bony bit on the inside of the ankle. A stress fracture of the medial malleolus can occur but is very rare2.
- It causes pain on the inside of the ankle which is exacerbated by activity, especially running and jumping activities.
- You will have specific point tenderness over the medial malleolus where the fracture is located.
- You may also be swelling, but not in all cases.
- If the stress fracture is in the early stages it may not show up on X-ray but a bone scan, CT scan, or MRI can confirm the diagnosis.
- More on Medial malleolar stress fracture
Rare And Unusual Ankle Pain Causes
Rare and unusual causes that may lead to severe ankle pain include:
- Loss of blood supply to the bone: This can follow trauma, blood vessel blockage, or certain diseases, and causes bone damage and pain.
- Tumors: These can form in and around the ankle joint, causing pain and swelling.
Whether you’re incredibly active or spend most nights on the couch, an ankle injury can happen to anyone. If you find yourself with an ankle that’s not cooperating, it’s time to look into treatments.
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What Causes Burning Pain Top Of Foot When Walking
If you are experiencing burning top of foot pain, it is likely because of inflammation of the extensor tendons that run over the top of your foot. It is the most common reason for top foot tenderness and more familiar with athletes, footballers, dancers, and runners.
Other causes are using a tight fitting shoe that hurt your tendons, running uphill, and a sudden increase in the intensity of your exercise.
Is Severe Ankle Pain Serious
Ankle pain that is described as severe will likely require a consult with your physician if it persists.
- Not serious: The pain subsides quickly after the injury and any swelling responds to rest, ice, and over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Moderately serious: The pain continues for a few days, even without signs of fracture or infection.
- Serious: If there is pain along with an obvious injury or deformity, and/or redness and swelling in the ankle, this is a medical emergency.
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What Is Foot Pain
Foot pain can be debilitating to an active lifestyle. Foot pain can have many sources, from fractures and sprains to nerve damage. Listed below are 3 common areas of pain in the foot and their causes:
Pain in the ball of the foot. Pain in the ball of the foot, located on the bottom of the foot behind the toes, may be caused by nerve or joint damage in that area. In addition, a benign growth, such as Morton’s neuroma, may cause the pain. Corticosteroid injections and wearing supportive shoe inserts may help relieve the pain. Sometimes, surgery is needed.
Plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is characterized by severe pain in the heel of the foot, especially when standing up after resting. The condition is due to an overuse injury of the sole surface of the foot and results in inflammation of the fascia, a tough, fibrous band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the base of the toes.
Plantar fasciitis is more common in women, people who are overweight, people with occupations that require a lot of walking or standing on hard surfaces, people with flat feet, and people with high arches. Walking or running, especially with tight calf muscles, may also cause the condition.
Treatment may include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
Stretching exercises of the Achilles tendons and plantar fascia
When Should You Contact Your Healthcare Provider
Contact your healthcare provider if you:
- Are unable to walk or put any weight on your foot or ankle.
- Cant rotate your ankle in any direction.
- Experience a snapping or popping sensation in your foot or ankle.
- Have severe, sudden pain in your foot or ankle.
- Notice swelling or discoloration in your foot or ankle.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Peroneal tendonitis is irritation or inflammation in the tendons that run along the outside of your ankle and foot. Its usually due to overexertion and typically heals with a few weeks of conservative treatments. But untreated tendonitis can get worse, leading to a tendon tear. Never try to push through foot or ankle pain. Remember to give your body the rest it needs between periods of intense physical activity.
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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.
How Can You Treat Tendonitis At Home
You can treat some cases of extensor tendonitis at home. Rest the affected foot for two to three days. Use it as little as possible to give the tendons a break.
While you are resting your foot, put ice on it for 20 minutes every two or three hours.
Wrap an elastic bandage around the injured area to reduce inflammation, or use a brace. Make sure the bandage or brace is not too tight and take it off before you go to sleep.
Try loosening your shoelaces or trying different shoes to see if that helps. You can also add some padding under the tongue of your shoe before you return to activity.
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What Is Foot Tendonitis
Foot tendonitis is inflammation or irritation of a tendon in your foot. Tendons are strong bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones. Overuse usually causes foot tendonitis, but it can also be the result of an injury.
Are there different types of foot tendonitis?
Your feet contain many tendons. Tendonitis can affect any of them, but the most common include:
- Achilles tendonitis: Affects the tendon connecting your calf muscle and heel bone. This tendon is the strongest tendon in the body. It helps us run, jump, walk and do other activities that require us to rise up on our toes.
- Extensor tendonitis: Irritation of the tendon that runs along the top of your foot. These tendons attach bones at the front of your leg to your toes.
- Peroneal tendonitis: Inflammation in either of the two tendons that run along your outer ankle bone. They connect to your midfoot and your arch to help with stability.
- Posterior tibial tendonitis: Affects the tendon that connects your calf muscle to bones on the inside of your foot. These tendons help hold up the arch of your foot.
- Plantar fasciitis: Pain at the underside of your heel and within the arch of your foot. While this is technically not a tendon but a ligament, it can produce the same type of painful conditions that present like tendonitis, with similar treatment approaches.
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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Common Causes Of Top Of The Foot Or Ankle Pain
Experiencing pain across the top of your foot is pretty common. Of course, even if the pain is not the result of anything extremely serious, discomfort along the top of your foot or ankle is not something you should ignore. After all, even a minor injury or condition can have long-term implications, such as chronic pain or an additional injury, if not properly addressed.
The following are the seven most common reasons you might be experiencing this type of foot and/or causes of ankle pain:
Why Does My Big Toe Foot Or Ankle Joint Hurt
Gout is a kind of inflammation caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals in a joint. How your body handles uric acid is partly genetic, but certain lifestyle factors such as your diet can also contribute.
A gout attack can happen in a variety of areas, but the big toe is most common. Symptoms involve swelling, tenderness and sharp pain, and can last anywhere from a couple days to several weeks. The affected area may also become very red.
Along with dietary and lifestyle changes, there are medications that can help prevent gout flare-ups. Gout attacks can also be soothed with a corticosteroid shot or a short-term medication prescription.
If you think you may be experiencing a gout attack, make an appointment with a podiatrist right away. Gout can be diagnosed during a flare-up when the joint is hot, swollen or painful, and lab tests find uric acid crystals within the affected joint.
Osteoarthritis is the most common kind of arthritis. It usually occurs in the foot and ankle when the cartilage that cushions bones at their joints breaks down.
Without cartilage in a joint, the movement of that joint can feel grating and stiff, and its range of motion may decrease. The joint can also swell and become painful.
In some cases, osteoarthritis can lead to hallux rigidus, an arthritis of the big toe that causes painful stiffness in the main toe joint. It can also lead to pain and inflammation in the ankle and be associated with tendonitis.
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Take The Next Step Toward Foot Pain Relief
No matter the kind of foot pain youre experiencing, dont just try to push through it.
At a minimum, there are things you can do at home to heal certain conditions and relieve pain. But if youre experiencing intense or increasing foot or ankle pain, your symptoms are impacting your daily activities, or youre simply concerned somethings wrong, make an appointment with a podiatrist.
Podiatrists specialize in all things foot and ankle. Oftentimes, they can treat certain conditions in the office, as well as recommend products, stretches and exercises, pain medications and therapies to help relieve or heal pain. Many are also foot and ankle surgeons who can provide more advanced care when needed.
Tired of foot pain? Its time to see a foot and ankle specialist.
Five Tips For Getting By Every Day If You Have Top Of The Foot Pain Near The Ankle
The feet and ankles bear an important responsibility of supporting your entire body weight and staying flexible enough for a wide range of activities. When you have pain at the top of your foot near the ankle, it can be difficult to do anything that involves standing, walking, running or jumping.
If youre living with top of the foot pain near your ankle, take a moment to review these five tips that can help you get by in your day-to-day life.
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Can Foot Tendonitis Lead To A Tendon Rupture
Severely overstretching or a sudden injury to a tendon can lead to a rupture, causing the tendon to partially or fully break. A tendon rupture in your foot needs medical attention. Talk to your healthcare provider if you:
- Cant put weight on your foot.
- Cant move your foot in a certain direction.
- Have severe foot pain.
- Noticed a snapping or popping sensation in your foot at the time of injury.
Use An Arch Support In Your Shoes
Use an arch support that matches your arch as close as possible. The closer the arch support conforms to the arch of your foot the better it will be at decreasing pressure between the joints on top of your foot.
We recommend supports with higher arches and some rigidity.
The best OTC support we have found for top of foot pain and foot arthritis is the FootChair Orthotic with adjustable arch height because it is semi- rigid and has a relatively high arch, and most importantly, the arch can be adjusted.
The FootChair is the only arch support on the market that comes with pads that allow the arch to be adjusted to ensure you are getting the best support and pain relief. By adding more pads and increasing the arch height you can find the arch height that gives you the balance between relief of symptoms and comfort.
For smaller shoes including flats, high heels and soccer cleatswe recommend the FootChair Slim Orthotic with adjustable arch height. It has the same excellent adjustable arch as the full size FootChair but in a much slimmer profile. It also flexes to fit many heel heights.
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