What Could Pain on the Top of Your Foot Be?

Medically Reviewed on 10/27/2022
Pain on the Top of Your Foot
Most foot pain can be managed with home remedies; however, if your pain is severe consult a doctor.

Pain at the top of the foot often results from physical activities such as jumping or running and may be aggravated by wearing ill-fitting or tight shoes.

Foot pain can be caused by the following:

  • Trauma
  • Overuse
  • A disease that leads to inflammation of the bones, ligaments, or tendons in the foot

Foot pain is often caused by arthritis or gout.

Why do you have pain on the top of your foot?

Foot pain is a type of extremity pain that can be either severe or dull. It can also be associated with pain in other parts of your body, particularly the calves or shin. Depending on the cause, you may experience tingling or numbness in your feet.

Foot pain can be caused by a variety of factors, such as:

  • Inflammation: Inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or tendonitis.
  • Nerve damage: Numbness or tingling in the feet may be a sign of pinched nerves or neurological problems that can affect any part of the body.
  • Injury: Injuries on the foot bones, muscles, tissues, or joints can lead to inflammation.
  • Illnesses: Some disorders disrupt the blood circulation to the extremities, causing pain symptoms in the extremities and/or causing discomfort and inflammation in other parts of the body.

Foot discomfort can stem from various factors, including injury. However, if you do not have a history of injury, alternative possibilities for your foot pain include:

  • Peripheral neuropathy: Damage to the nerves that carry sensation from your feet may cause discomfort, tingling, or numbness. 
  • Gout: A failure to properly metabolize uric acid can result in excruciating arthritis, especially in the feet.
  • Lupus: This can lead to skin inflammation, particularly in the hands and feet.
  • Tendinitis: Medical term for inflammation of a tendon, typically in the hands or feet, brought on by an infection, a disease, or a trauma.
  • Bunions: Lumps at the base of the big toe caused by wearing shoes with a tight toe box. They may also result from conditions such as arthritis or irregular bone alignment.
  • Hammer toes: Toes with a downward curvature that resembles a claw.
  • Corns and calluses: Areas of thickened skin caused by pressure or friction. Calluses are commonly seen on the balls or heels of the foot, whereas corns form on the tops of your toes.
  • Multiple sclerosis: Destroys the nerve sheath and may result in pain and numbness.

How can you treat foot pain at home?

Most foot or ankle pains can be managed without visiting a doctor.

Self-care tips

Acetaminophen or pain-relieving gel can be used to get relief from mild to moderate pain.

During the first two to three days, RICE therapy, which entails four pain relief techniques, aids in accelerating healing. These steps include:

  • Rest: Try not to put any weight on the affected foot. Avoid exercising; instead, try stretching or lightly moving it occasionally to prevent the area from becoming stiff.
  • Ice: Apply an ice pack or frozen vegetables covered with a soft cloth to the sore area every two to three hours for 20 minutes.
  • Compression: Wrap a bandage around the uncomfortable area to apply compression. It should be secure enough to hold it in place without being too tight to impede blood flow. Put a tiny piece of cotton wool between your injured toe and the next one, and then tape them together.
  • Elevate: To decrease swelling, elevate your foot.

In the first few days, it is recommended to steer clear of hot baths, heat packs, and alcohol, as they can interfere with recovery.


Common Causes of Foot Pain See Slideshow

When to contact a medical professional

Some foot pain could last longer than you anticipate. If you are unable to treat the pain on your own or if you have a condition that could affect your joints or soft tissues, it might be important to do more research.

Consult your doctor or a foot care specialist if any of the following situations apply:

  • Your discomfort is intensifying.
  • Even after two weeks of self-care, it is still producing issues.
  • You have wounds that aren't getting better.
  • Your foot is significantly swollen or has altered shape.
  • You feel hot and clammy or have a high temperature.
  • Your skin has changed its color, particularly if it has darkened to blue or black. 
  • If it is swollen, heated, or red, you may have an infection. 
  • The issue recurs or persists for more than a few weeks.
  • You have an inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You use immune-suppressing treatments such as biologics, steroids, or other prescription medications.

How to avoid foot problems

Actions listed below can help prevent foot issues and foot pain: 

  • Put on a pair of cozy, well-cushioned, properly fitting shoes with decent arch support.
  • Put on footwear with a large toe box and lots of space around the ball of your foot.
  • Avoid wearing heels and shoes with small toe boxes. 
  • Frequently switch out your running shoes. 
  • To avoid overworking your feet, gradually increase the amount of exercise you do.
  • Exercise requires a warm-up and cooldown. Always start with stretching.
  • Learn some foot-strengthening exercises to keep your feet pain-free. 
  • Lose weight, if necessary.
Medically Reviewed on 10/27/2022
Image Source: iStock image