Top of Foot Pain

Top of foot pain is a common complaint with a number of likely causes. It is not just the highly active who can suffer from pain in the top of the foot and it can strike anyone at any time. However while many people can diagnose heel pain and toe pain at home with some degree of accuracy, when it comes to top of foot pain many people do not have the first idea what could be the problem.

Top of foot pain can be caused by a handful of common conditions and being able to identify the cause of pain in the top of the foot is the first step towards curing the problem. This website has been set up to offer advice on the common causes of top of foot pain, the treatment options and how to prevent future problems with the feet.


The feet have to cope with the full weight of the body, deal with the forces from walking and running and are made to walk on hard unforgiving surfaces such as concrete and asphalt. To make matters worse, the feet are rammed into ill-fitting shoes, have to cope with high heels and are generally mistreated and abused. With the feet often neglected, it’s no surprise that problems arise, especially given the daily abuse that they deal with.

Common Top of Foot Pain Causes

Listed below are some of the most common causes of top of foot pain, with a summary of the condition and the common symptoms together with links to further information on each condition:

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common disorder affecting the joints. Due to the number of joints in the feet it is perhaps no surprise that this condition is often responsible for pain in the top of the foot. Osteoarthritis – often referred to simply as arthritis – is physical damage to the joint caused by wear and tear. Although this disorder is commonly associated with seniors it is far from restricted to this age group. This condition may involve bone spurs, and often causes inflammation of the joint or joint lining. Stiffness or inflexibility of the affected joints is a common symptom, which is generally worse in cold and damp weather. If your job involves excessive kneeling, flexing of the feet or manual handling of heavy loads, this disorder is more likely to develop as you are likely to suffer premature wear and tear on the joints in the top of the foot.

Metatarsal Stress Fractures

Stress fractures are small hairline cracks which form in bones. Stress fractures in the top of the foot often form in response to a series of micro-traumas to the metatarsal bones. Stress fractures can also be caused by a single trauma to the foot. Metatarsal stress fractures are characterized by top of foot pain along the metatarsal bones, in particular the third and fourth metatarsals. These metatarsal bones down the length of the top of the foot to the base of the toes. The pain from metatarsal stress fractures is typically worse with weight bearing activity and exercise, and can continue after exercise has been stopped; usually slowly abating with rest. Keep Reading…

Foot Tendonitis ¦ Tendinopathy

Tendonitis (also called tendinitis) is damage to the tendons and it is a common injury which can cause pain in the top of the foot. It is a classic overuse injury which arises due to overstretching of the tendon when micro-tears can form and the tendons can become inflamed. However, since this condition does not always involve inflammation, tendonitis is now commonly referred to as tendinopathy; 2which is a more accurate medical name for the condition. Tenonditis can cause severe top of foot pain, inflammation and swelling on top of the foot. It commonly affects the posterior tibial tendon, in which case it is referred to as Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction or PTTD. The role of this tendon is to hold up the foot arch, with pain and inflammation usually caused where it joins (inserts) into the bones on the top of the foot. Tendonitis may not necessarily cause visible inflammation of the skin and surface tissues. It usually involves tingling or stabbing pain in the top of the foot. Keep Reading…


Midtarsal Fault

A midtarsal fault causes top of foot pain in the instep. It is an overuse injury and is the term given to arthritic damage to the bones in the midfoot. When these bones rub and knock together through use, damage to the joints can occur. This damage is usually in the form of bone spurs. The condition is often associated with flat feet or fallen arches. When the foot arch flattens, the stress on the joints in the top of the foot is increased. When greater forces are exerted on these joints the chances of damage occurring is increased. This condition causes more pain and discomfort during activity, and barefoot walking can be particularly painful due to the lack of arch support. The problem can also lead to nerve entrapment (see below). Keep Reading…

Nerve Entrapment

Nerve entrapment, or a trapped nerve, is where a nerve in the foot becomes pinched or trapped in a joint. The name is also used when there is excess pressure placed on a nerve, which can be from something as simple as wearing tight fitting shoes. The nature of the pain varies significantly depending on the patient and location of the problem. It can cause numbness, aching, tingling, top of foot pain and the pain can radiate up the leg. Keep Reading…

Diabetes and Foot Pain

If you are diabetic and have pain in your feet it is vital that you visit a doctor or podiatrist promptly for a full diagnosis. Foot health problems are much more common with sufferers of diabetes and have potential to become highly serious in a short space of time. Even cuts to the feet require extra care to prevent foot ulcers from developing. More serious conditions such as osteomyelitis are also more common with sufferers of diabetes.

Primary Medical Care to Deal with Top of Foot Pain

A visit to a podiatrist or doctor is of course the best course of action to take when it comes to treatment of top of foot pain. It is important to determine not just the cause of the pain in the top of the foot in order to start an effective treatment regimen, but the actions and activities which led to the problem developing must also be identified to prevent the condition from recurring.

However, when you have pain in the top of your foot you will just want to get rid of the pain fast. One of the best treatments to use initially is referred to as the RICE therapy method. It is a standard treatment for muscular and tendon injuries until medical treatment is sought from a doctor or podiatrist.

RICE stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation, and while simple, is a highly effective treatment strategy. Rest is understandable as it gives the body time to heal itself. Ice will reduce inflammation and swelling, while acting as a painkiller. Compression and elevation helps with the blood circulation and reduces swelling from fluid build up. It is an excellent first line treatment for muscular injuries.


Other causes of pain in the top of the foot are detailed to the left, together with articles on general foot health. No information on this website should be taken as medical advice, which can only be provided by a doctor. We advise you to read our disclaimer below.