Why Does the Top of My Foot Hurt When I Walk?

Medically Reviewed on 11/2/2022
Why Does the Top of My Foot Hurt When I Walk
Pain in the top of your foot is often associated with exercising and ill-fitting shoes

Pain in the top of your foot may be caused by exercising—especially workouts that involve running, jumping, or kicking—ill-fitting shoes, or conditions like gout.

You might be able to identify the cause of your pain by looking at your symptoms:

Table. Possible causes of pain in the top of the foot
Symptoms Possible causes
  • Pain, swelling, and bruising that starts after intense or repetitive exercise
Sprain or strain
  • Long-lasting pain, swelling, and stiffness
  • Grinding or crackling sensation when you move the foot
  • A lump along the tendons
Tendonitis or osteoarthritis
  • Red, hot, swollen skin
  • Sudden or severe pain when anything touches your foot
  • Pain that starts near the bottom of the big toe
  • Pain in the top of the foot while walking or running that is accompanied by swelling or a bump
Extensor tendonitis
  • Mild to severe pain
  • Weakness
  • Loss of sensation
  • Movement difficulties in the affected foot and leg
Peroneal nerve dysfunction
  • Dull pain that progresses to a sharp pain
Stress fracture
  • Stiffness, swelling, and pain primarily on the top of the midfoot
Midfoot osteoarthritis
  • Foot pain that occurs with walking or standing
High arch foot

When should you see a doctor for foot pain?

You should seek immediate medical attention if you pain in the top of your foot is accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain or swelling
  • Open wounds or pus-filled wounds
  • Signs of infection such as redness and warmth in the area or a fever above 100 F (37.8 C)
  • Inability to walk or put weight on your foot
  • History of diabetes and a nonhealing wound that is red, swollen, or warm to touch

Call your doctor if you notice the following symptoms:

  • Persistent swelling that doesn’t resolve after home treatment for 2-5 days
  • Persistent pain that doesn't improve after several weeks of treatment
  • Burning, numbness, or tingling in the soles of your feet

How can you ease the pain on the top of your foot?

To ease the pain in the top of your foot, your physician may suggest the following remedies:

  • Rest your foot or elevate it when possible
  • Apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel or a bag of frozen peas to the affected area for 20 minutes every 2-3 hours
  • Wear shoes with plenty of room for your feet and a low heel
  • Use soft insoles or pads in your shoes
  • Lose weight if you are overweight
  • Try gentle stretching exercises for your foot and ankle
  • Take acetaminophen for pain relief

How to prevent pain in the top of your foot

Pain on the top of your foot can be prevented with the following measures:

  • Engage in regular exercise
  • Always warmup and cooldown before and after exercise
  • Slowly and gradually increase workout intensity
  • Strengthen your muscles before engaging in sports or training
  • Use proper form and posture for when performing workouts
  • Pay attention to your body and stop if you feel pain
  • Avoid any sports or other activities that trigger pain
  • Wear shoes that fit properly and avoid high heels or tight footwear
  • Do not walk or stand for prolonged periods of time


Common Causes of Foot Pain See Slideshow
Medically Reviewed on 11/2/2022
Image Source: iStock image