Causes and Treatment for Pain on Top of the Foot


Swelling top of foot

Pain on top of the foot is an uncomfortable affliction that can be mildly annoying or severely debilitating, and while pain comes and goes for some people for others it is a constant problem. This type of condition has several causes that range from minor irritations to serious health issues, but it is most often caused by injury or irritation due to anatomical or mechanical factors.

The causes and treatment for pain on top of the foot will depend on entirely on the underlying issues. Your doctor will likely examine you for one of the following underlying conditions: stress fractures, tendonitis, metatarsalgia, bone spurs, nerve entrapment, a sprain or a cyst, gout, diabetes, arthritis, phlebitis, or an ingrown toenail. Pain on the top of the foot may also be caused by medication, aging, pregnancy, excessive standing or walking, hormonal imbalances, and foot structure issues such as hammertoe or fallen arches. Believe it or not, improper lacing of sneakers or wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes is also near the top of the list, as both of these situations can impede circulation and create pressure on nerves in the foot.

While pain is the most common symptom experienced, some people may also find that their foot becomes red, swollen and tender to the touch. The foot may be difficult to stand or walk on as the pain may intensify during weight-bearing activities. Because the causes and treatment for pain on the top of the foot are so varied and because pain in this area is somewhat unusual, significant or chronic levels of discomfort are good indications that medical advice should be sought.
When pain symptoms first appear it’s best to start RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) treatment immediately. Ice should be applied for 5 minutes at a time with 1 minute of rest to avoid damaging the skin. Over the counter medication such as Tylenol or aspirin may relieve discomfort but should not be relied upon over the long term. If there is no indication of trauma or injury a gentle stretching of the feet may reduce the stresses caused by overuse and a reduction of activities may be required as well.

Aside from immediate treatment of pain a few steps may need to be taken over the long term, including the introduction of foot orthotics to properly align the foot, reduce pressure on nerves and tissue, and provide arch support and even weight distribution. The type of footwear being worn may need to be adjusted as well, as tight or poorly fitting shoes often cause this type of pain. Also, it shouldn’t be necessary to tie laces tightly to keep the shoe properly adjusted, and if this is occurring then modification in footwear is required.

Again, because there are so many factors in the causes and treatment for pain on top of the foot, if pain levels are not reduced by the use of RICE treatment, rest, a change in footwear or the introduction of foot orthotics, then it’s time to make an appointment with a doctor or podiatrist. This type of discomfort can indicate a more serious underlying problem that should be addressed as soon as possible.

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