Got pain on the top of your foot? No surprise! Did you know that 75% of Americans suffer from pain in their feet every year at some point? Seriously! That’s a lot of foot pain!

More seriously, foot pain can seriously impact your life. Pain on the top of your foot can be from several common maladies. Here are the top five reasons for pain on the top of your foot:

  1. Stress fracture: Yes, your foot can be broken and you can still walk on it. Stress fractures usually start as a deep ache that just doesn’t go away. They don’t “warm up” when exercising. Most people have no idea what they did to cause their stress fracture. Symptoms are significant pain and swelling on the top of your foot. X-rays can be negative for up to two weeks after the fracture, so if the pain persists make sure to get a repeat x-ray two weeks later. The best treatment is rest!
  2. Extensor tendonitis: Inflammation and irritation of the long tendons on the top of your foot. Diffuse swelling and pain, especially when moving your toes. This type of pain usually will warm up while you are exercising, then be worse afterwards. Tight shoes, improper biomechanics, and overuse are the most common causes of extensor tendonitis. Rest, ice, anti-inflammatories, changes in shoe gear, functional foot orthotics and physical therapy are part of the treatment regimen.
  3. Neuritis or Nerve impingement: Pinched nerves on the top of your foot are often quite painful. They can be caused by arthritis of your midfoot, trauma, high-heeled shoes, clogs that are too tight or even just tying your running shoes too tight. Neuritis can linger for quite some time untreated. Treatment can include changes in shoe gear, anti-inflammatory medication, and cortisone injections along the nerve.
  4. Ganglionic cyst: This is a painful bump on top of your foot. It is a sac of jelly-like fluid that often is a small balloon off of a tendon or joint. These cysts are usually caused by trauma or instability. These are not very painful unless they rub on another structure. Treatment is aspiration (taking the fluid out of the cyst) or surgery to excise the cyst.
  5. Tibialis anterior tendonitis: Inflammation of the large tendon on the front of your ankle. Usually symptoms gradually occur and worsen. Caused by over use, improper training techniques in jumping or running sports, or trauma. Ice, rest, compression, changes in shoe gear or jumping techniques, and physical therapy are often needed to decrease inflammation and pain.

There are some other foot problems that can give you pain on the top of your foot like gout, infections, athlete’s foot fungus, and referred pain from hammertoes and bunions; but these are the top five that we see.

Bottom line: If you are suffering from pain on the top of your foot and it has been persistent for more that 4 or 5 days, time to schedule some quality time with your favorite podiatrist!

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