Pain On Top of Foot – Common Causes, Symptoms & Treatments | Pain Care

Pain On Top of Foot – Common Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Many people suffer from the chronic pain on top of the foot. It profoundly affects the daily activity like standing, running or even walking.

Foot pain can cause a big trouble as they carry our body weight and help us to move from one place to another. With constant pressure of body weight and movements, injury of the foot can worsen easily.

If you are wondering about "Why does the top of my foot hurt?" then be assured that you are not alone. Almost 75% Americans experiences foot pain and many seek treatment just because their foot hurt on the top.

Symptoms of Pain on Top of Foot

There are a set of symptoms that may accompany top of foot pain these are -

  • Tenderness of suffering foot
  • Redness of affected area
  • Swelling around top of foot
  • Pain that increases with movement of the foot, like walking, running etc.​

​Causes of Pain on Top of Foot

Pain at the top of foot can be triggered by multiple causes, while there are almost 8 to 10 causes are more prominent than others.

We will see how these different causes leads to pain on top of foot when walking, running or even seating idle.


Stress Fractures of Foot Bones

By carrying the weight of a whole body during walking, our foot bones are always functioning under great tension.

Stress fracture of metatarsal bones is the most common cause that triggers foot pain.

Metatarsals are the long bones that found in foot and situated between tarsal bones & phalanges of toes.

Even a small fracture in these bones can lead to pain in upper part of foot.

These type of fractures are commonly found in the people who involve in actions that demand repetitive jumping, running or kicking. It can be seen in athletes.

Such fracture leaves swelling and tenderness in the foot as well as can cause pain during walking & running.

To get relief from these pain, it is better to have complete bed rest until the fracture heals. Even if you require to walk, use crutches to avoid direct pressure on suffering foot.

You can even apply ice to affected area to reduce pain and redness. Consult your doctor and take proper medications. If require undergo surgery.​


Extensor Tendonitis

Our bone works when muscles attached to them contract & relax. These muscles attach to the bone with specialized tissues know as tendons.

Constant stress or injury to these tendons leads to inflammation of tendons causing a condition known as tendonitis.

Multiple things can trigger tendonitis like foot injury, tight shoes that put pressure on the tendon, standing for a long time or running barefoot on an uneven ground.

Extensor tendonitis can be acute or chronic. It causes swelling on top of foot, dull aching pain while moving your foot. It may cause discomfort while wearing footwear.

In such condition applying ice to the foot may help. Also, pay attention to your shoes and get a pair of shoes that fits comfortably to your foot. If pain continues, take some bed rest and get your foot checked by orthopedics.

Check out this video by Dr. Richard Perez explaining the different causes of dorsal foot pain.


Sinus Tarsi Syndrome

Though this is not a common problem, it can cause pain in foot around the top area near an ankle.

It is caused by inflammation of Sinus Tarsi.

Sinus Tarsi is a channel that found between the bone of ankle and heel. It provides space for blood vessels, nerves and ligaments of muscles.

Often, it is caused by the sprain in ankle region, continuous baseball & ballet practice etc.

It leads to pain at outside area of ankle and top of the foot. Pain become severe with movements of foot and relieves by rest. It may cause ankle stiffness.

It is advised to take rest along stability training and some useful exercise that your doctor can advise you.


Common Peroneal Nerve Dysfunction

It is a branch of the sciatic nerve that provides sensation as well as motor function to the toes, foot and lower part of leg.

Trauma or injury to this nerve may lead to dysfunction which creates tingling sensation at the upper part of foot.

Other symptoms include foot drop and weakness on the lower leg.

Also Read :- Sural Nerve Damage



Gout is a disease that caused by a defect in the metabolism of uric acid in our body.

It is one of the common cause for foot pain that located near the big toe.

Gout is nothing but inflammatory arthritis that affects joints and causes accumulation uric acid crystals leading to the top of foot pain and swelling of joints.

Gout commonly affects the big toe of foot.

Pain with tenderness, redness and swelling of affected joints are the common sign and symptoms of Gout.

It is better to avoid food with purine levels like organ meats (liver, kidney etc), some seafood like herring, sardines, tuna & scallop etc also cut down the alcohol consumption.


Athlete's Foot

Athlete's foot is also known as the 'Tinea pedis'. It means the fungal infection of the foot.

This fungus grows and thrives in moist, dark & warm areas of foot that includes the space between the toenails. People who wear tight shoes & have sweaty feet can easily get this fungi infection.

Also walking barefoot in the grass that might have fungus can also lead this condition. Usually, sweaty feet, tight shoes causing foot sweat, dirty socks, walking barefoot in grass & weak immunity are the prominent causes of this condition.

Redness, scale formation and intense itching are the most common symptoms of athletes foot.

To treat this fungal infection, wash affected area thoroughly & dry. After drying, apply an anti-fungal cream over this affected area. Apply once or twice a day for few days successively for better results.


Ganglion Cyst

The ganglion cyst is tumor like swelling that arise from the joint capsule or tendon sheet and forms below the surface of skin​.

​It is actually a sac filled with fluid and depending upon the consistency of fluid it can feel firm or jelly like soft.

Such cyst are more common around the area of wrist but can also be found at the top of foot.

These cyst are also know as bible cyst and more prevalent in women than men and mostly affect the people of age 20 to 40. Rarely found in children below 10.​

Though, cause of this fluid filled sac is unknown, many doctor believe that trauma to the top foot may trigger the formation. of Ganglion cyst.

Other common causes of foot pain are -

  • Extensor Tendonitis
  • Sinus Tarsi Syndrome
  • Hammer Toe Or Mallet Toe
  • Nerve Entrapment
  • Gout Affecting Foot Joints
  • Athlete's Foot
  • Ganglion Cyst
  • Tarsal Coalition Tibialis
  • Anterior Tendonitis
  • Bone Spurs Metatarsalgia​


It is always better to consult your doctor for any pain in the body, so the pain on top of foot is no exception for this rule. If you have consistent pain, get an appointment with your physician. 

Pain can be felt in many ways including tingling, burning or numbness. If you are experiencing the persistent pain that does not let you walk around then you should see the doctor asap.

The doctor will look for the different causes of foot pain including injuries, stress or any other underlying diseases that may trigger the pain.

He will also ask your past history about foot diseases and injuries if any occurred recently. 

After taking the history, examining the foot he might ask for a certain clinical test to finalize the diagnosis.

He will check your foot by pressing at different areas to see an exact location of pain. Walking, moving feet up-down and rolling it, can also be a part of foot examination. Doing this will help your physician to evaluate the range of motion of your feet.

X-ray, MRI can also be done to see if any internal damage has occurred or not.

Dr. Sachin

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 21 comments
Scott McCulloch - May 18, 2016


I’m a long-distance runner, and have battled top-of-foot pain off and on for a long time. I did try different lacing techniques and shoes, which helped some. I also found stretching my calves and hammies helped. Ultimately, I made a little shoe insert that redistributed the pressure from the shoe laces over a wider area – and it let me log the miles again almost pain free. Not to shamelessly self-promote, but in case it can help someone here, this is my website where you can see what I did: And yes, I sell it too! 🙂

Lillian Schaeffer - October 4, 2016

This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that pain in your foot can be because of a stress fracture. My daughter play softball, and her foot has been causing her some pain ever since practice yesterday. Knowing that it could be a fracture, we’ll definitely look into visiting a professional to get it checked. Thanks for the great post!

Jasper Whiteside - January 6, 2017

Stress fractures are interesting to me because they don’t necessarily need an impact to cause them. They can be caused by consistent high pressure. I think this is why the article says that they are the most common cause of foot pain. I would think that they would be hard to diagnose without an x ray.

John Ferrell - April 10, 2017

You said that damage to our tendons can cause swelling in our foot. If I damage my ankle while playing sports I would want to be taken care of correctly and quickly. I’ll probably want to find a professional that could help me if I get hurt.

Doc - April 17, 2017

Very often happens that athletes have small fracture and feel pain in their foot, but as they feel pride and competitive they don’t take the pain seriously and it causes only bigger fracture and more pain. They should be more informed how this is a serious problem and I like that you have mentioned it in the article.

Susan George - May 3, 2017

I have swollen foot, is that caused by long hrs of sitting ?

    Dr. Sachin - May 6, 2017

    Maybe, but you need to consult a doctor to rule out other causes of swollen feet.

Danni Black - May 3, 2017

You mentioned that tendonitis can be triggered by a foot injury or tight shoes that put pressure on the tendon. I wonder if that is the problem with my feet since my husband and I do a lot of running together and have been having a lot of pain since I got new, tighter shoes. My husband suggested maybe talking with a podiatrist so I’ll have to ask them about my foot pain. Thanks for sharing!

shereen - August 28, 2017

Hi im suffering frm severe pain ontop of m foot an hav slight a housewife on m feet fr most of the 55.iv ben wearing an ankle boot with fur inside coz of the extreme cold conditions.what can be causingthis pain as it hinders walking esp whentaking steps forward.thank you.

Dan - September 18, 2017

My wife fell at work off a chair and hit the top of her foot on the table corner.this was 5yrs ago and since then the top of her foot swells DRAMATICALY!!most days pretty bad.what could it be?

    Dr. Sachin - October 3, 2017

    Have you ever done x-ray of the foot or seek physicians help regarding this? She might have some chronic injuries.

Deb - October 5, 2017

I have flat feet and have worn orthotics for years. My foot pain has worsened a lot and I was told problem may be my ankles. Physical therapist said I have tendinosis and should stay off my feet. How long does it take to heal and what can I do to heal faster?

lois prisk - October 20, 2017

I was diagnosed with tendonitis on top of my foot. Had injections wore a boot was put in a non weight baring cast for three weeks and Physical therapy different meds nothing worked. Do I just live with the pain?

Deb - October 31, 2017

I had knee replacement almost a year ago. It did not align straight and is at a 15 degree angle (according to PT). Can this alignment cause pain on the top of my foot. The pain can be anytime…whether I’m walking on it or still. I know with the alignment, my knee is inward and the bottom half of my left goes out. Any advice is appreciated.

    Dr. Sachin - November 2, 2017

    Yeah, if the knee has abnormal 15-degree angle it will affect the alignment of a foot while walking and also put pressure on different points of the foot. This might trigger the pain. Why don’t you visit your ortho doc to diagnose the real reason behind the pain?

BRIAN PILCHER - November 16, 2017

my issue feels like the two bones the cunneform is either hitting the metatarsal or the navicular bone when i walk or run without enough arch support. it gets sore on the top of the foot. I am a big runner and it hurt when i was running, but recently it also hurt when i wasn’t which made me think that walking or standing did it too. i am going to see my foot doc nov 28 but do you have any ideas on this? thanks

    Dr. Sachin - November 16, 2017

    Runners are more prone to the foot injuries, and not having enough foot-arch support can add more fuel to underlying inflammation. It will be difficult to say anything without examining the foot. It can be microtears in tendons, sprain, or some bone issues as you described.

D V RAMANA - December 20, 2017

It’s very helpful to me, exactly what I am facing the problem


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