You may be surprised to know that most people must stand for at least five hours a day. Additionally, the average person takes about 10,000 steps a day. It’s easy to see that we need our feet to be healthy and pain-free in order to withstand this sort of everyday stress. Surprisingly, our feet are among the most complex structures in the body. They contain multiple small bones and even have the ability to grow new bones when the need is perceived.
Luckily, our feet are perfectly designed to absorb the shock of all the walking and standing that most people must do. In fact, your foot, which contains a total of 33 joints, 26 bones and over 100 ligaments, muscles and nerves, is especially designed to support your body, provide balance on uneven surfaces and ambulate ever forward throughout your life.
Unfortunately, excessive use, injury and a number of medical conditions can compromise the ability of the feet to provide a solid and comfortable foundation. Foot pain is quite common, and pain on top of foot is especially troublesome.
When the top of your foot hurts, it can be very hard to walk or run. In fact, it can even be difficult to stand in one place. Many people suffer from pain in the top-of-the-foot, which can range from mild to severe. Some people have constant, chronic top-of-the-foot pain, while others experience pain intermittently.
Symptoms that often accompany top-of-foot pain
There are a number of symptoms that may precede or accompany top-of-foot pain:
- Inflammation, redness and/or swelling
- Pain that increases throughout the day
- A hot sensation at the site of the pain
- Difficulty standing and/or walking
- Tenderness of the entire foot
Causes of top-of-the-foot pain
You may feel at a loss as to why the top of your foot hurts. There are many reasons, and some of them can be quite subtle. Here is a partial list:
- You may have over used your feet or abuse them by wearing improper or worn-out footwear.
- You may have unknowingly strain or sprain your foot or ankle or even gotten a stress fracture.
- You may have developed bone spurs, tendinitis or nerve entrapment.
- You may have a ganglion cyst or an ingrown toenail.
- You may be pregnant or have a hormonal imbalance.
- New medication may be having an unexpected effect.
- You may be experiencing age-related wear and tear.
- You may be developing a hammertoe.
One of the most common causes of pain in the top-of-the-foot is a stress fracture. It is easy to get a metatarsal stress fracture in a number of ways. It can be caused by an injury, or repetitive use, weakened muscles, improper bone alignment, reduction of bone density or arthritis.
Wearing shoes that are too tight, excessively worn or simply improper for your activities can cause a stress fracture or other damaging effects such as repetitive use injury. Wearing improper shoes can also cause tendinitis.
Hormonal changes ranging from puberty to premenstrual syndrome to pregnancy to menopause can all cause top-of-the-foot pain.
A number of diseases such as arthritis, diabetes and gout can cause top-of-foot pain. Wear and tear can cause top-of-the-foot pain, so as you grow older you can add this to one of the many things that can affect your quality of life.
Do you need to see a doctor about top-of-the-foot pain?
Anytime you have pain in your feet, it’s a good idea to your doctor or podiatrist. The reason for this is that your feet are the foundation of your body. Painful feet affect your ambulation and the alignment of your entire body. Additionally, if foot pain is left untreated it is far more likely to get worse than better. Seeing your doctor right away is a good and wise preventative measure. Your doctor or podiatrist can give you a proper diagnosis and design an effective course of treatment.
What will the doctor do?
When you visit your doctor or podiatrist about top-of-the-foot pain, he or she will examine your feet visually and ask you some questions. You can expect to go through a complete medical history and to discuss the activities you were engaged in prior to the development of the pain in your foot.
Next, your doctor will perform a series of tests including both non-weight-bearing and weight-bearing activities, x-rays, bone scans and MRIs. Your doctor will examine the ligaments, tendons, muscles, bones and nerves of your feet. He or she may also examine your shoes to make certain that you are wearing properly fitted supportive footwear.
What can be done about top-of-the-foot pain?
Your doctor or podiatrist may recommend a number of different treatments for your foot pain. One of the most commonly prescribed methods of foot pain relief is the classic:
- Rest – Stay off the injured foot and give it a chance to recuperate.
- Ice – Apply ice packs in 15 minute intervals.
- Compression – Apply a compression bandage.
- Elevation – Put your feet up for better circulation.
In fact, you can use this method before you ever see your doctor. This is a very safe way of treating pain of all kinds. Your doctor may also advise some of the following:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Tylenol and the like.
- The use of either over-the-counter or prescribed orthotics, padding and/or strapping.
- Foot stretching and exercise and/or limiting daily activities.
- Higher-quality, more supportive footwear.
- Prescription pain medications.
- Surgery as a last resort.
Your doctor may prescribe crutches or other supportive devices to help rest your foot while it heals. If you have a fracture, you may need to stay off your feet for a month to six weeks.
If your foot pain is caused by your shoes, naturally you will need to change to properly fitted, supportive footwear.
How to make the most of your doctor’s visit
Your doctor will discuss ongoing treatment with you. There are number of questions you’ll want to ask in order to be fully informed and to coordinate best with your doctors recommendations. Among these are:
- Are there any other diagnostic tests I should be prepared for?
- How soon should I see you again if pain does not resolve?
- How can I avoid developing this problem in the future?
- Can I improve this problem with diet and exercise?
- What type of footwear is best to relieve my pain?
- When should I expect relief from pain?
- What happens if I ignore treatment?
- What is the cause of this problem?
- How long will treatment last?
- Should I use orthotics?
Be sure to write down any other questions you may have so that you will remember to ask them when you speak with your doctor. Being well-informed and taking a proactive approach to healing can go a long way toward successfully overcoming pain on top of foot.
Disclaimer: Pedi Reviews does not provide medical advice, treatment or diagnosis.