Pain in The Top of The Foot Symptom, Causes & Questions

Understand your pain in the top of the foot symptoms, including 8 causes & common questions.

  1. 8 Possible Causes
  2. Real-Life Stories
  3. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  4. Statistics
  5. Related Articles

8 Possible Pain In The Top Of The Foot Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced pain in the top of the foot. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Morton neuroma

Morton neuroma, also called by the older name Morton's neuroma, is a thickening of fibrous tissue in the ball of the foot. This tissue encapsulates the nerve leading to the third and fourth toes. It is not actually a tumor of the nerve, as the name suggests.

The thickening is caused by years of trauma, irritation, and/or compression to the feet. High-heeled shoes, especially if narrow or tight, are a common cause. The condition is most often seen in women over age 45.

Symptoms include burning pain in the ball of the foot, especially with walking or running. The condition will not heal on its own and can lead to chronic foot pain.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination of the foot with simple range of motion exercises, and sometimes x-ray.

Treatment includes changing to better-fitting shoes that do not compress the nerve; using orthotics in the shoes to take more pressure off of the nerve; and in some cases the use of corticosteroid injections.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: foot numbness, pain in the sole of the foot, pain when touching the foot, pain in both feet, foot injury

Urgency: Self-treatment

Rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis is a general term for multiple conditions that cause painful inflammation and stiffness throughout the body. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition that is autoimmune in nature, meaning that the body's immune system which normally protects the body by att...

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Posterior tibialis tendinopathy

The posterior tibialis tendon attaches the calf muscle to the bones on the underside of the foot. It provides stability and arch support. If this tendon is damaged, the result may be a flat, unstable foot.

Posterior tibialis tendinopathy is most often a sports injury, where the tendon becomes inflamed or torn through overuse or high impact.

Symptoms include pain down the ankle and into the foot, sometimes with swelling. The pain becomes worse with any activity, even standing or walking. When standing, the patient's arch will be collapsed and flat and the front of the foot will point outward. The patient will be unable to stand on the injured foot and raise the heel.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, and imaging such as x-ray, CT scan, or MRI.

Treatment involves rest, over-the-counter pain relievers, orthotics (shoe pads,) braces, and sometimes steroid injections into the damaged tendon. Surgery can be tried, but tends to be complex and cannot always restore the tendon completely.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: swollen foot, pain in one foot, limping, pain in one ankle, spontaneous ankle pain

Symptoms that never occur with posterior tibialis tendinopathy: recent cutting accident

Urgency: Primary care doctor


Fibromyalgia is a set of chronic symptoms that include ongoing fatigue, diffuse tenderness to touch, musculoskeletal pain, and usually some degree of depression.

The cause is not known. When fibromyalgia appears, it is usually after a stressful physical or emotional event such as an automobile accident or a divorce. It may include a genetic component where the person experiences normal sensation as pain.

Almost 90% of fibromyalgia sufferers are women. Anyone with rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, may be more prone to fibromyalgia.

Poor sleep is often a symptom, along with foggy thinking, headaches, painful menstrual periods, and increased sensitivity to heat, cold, bright lights, and loud noises.

There is no standard test for fibromyalgia. The diagnosis is usually made when the above symptoms go on for three months or more with no apparent cause.

Fibromyalgia does not go away on its own but does not get worse, either.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: fatigue, arthralgias or myalgias, anxiety, depressed mood, headache

Symptoms that always occur with fibromyalgia: arthralgias or myalgias

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Pain In The Top Of The Foot Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your pain in the top of the foot

Flat feet

Pes planus, or flat feet, are a common and usually painless condition where the arches on the inside of the feet are flattened. Usually this is due to poor arch development during childhood.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: pain in the top of the foot, pain in the middle of the foot

Urgency: Wait and watch

Foot bruise

A foot contusion (bruise) is the result of physical damage to the veins and capillaries (which help move blood back toward the heart). The blood pools in the damaged area and creates that blue/purple color.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: pain in one foot, foot injury, foot pain from an injury, pain when touching the foot, foot bruise

Symptoms that always occur with foot bruise: foot pain from an injury, foot injury

Symptoms that never occur with foot bruise: recent cutting accident

Urgency: Self-treatment

Foot sprain

A foot sprain is damage to ligaments within the foot. The term "sprain" refers to overstretching or tearing of ligaments — the strong, fibrous bands of tissue that hold the bones together within the joints. Foot sprains are usually sports or dance injuries. Any sort of running movement that involves sud...

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Complex regional pain syndrome (crps)

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is also called reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD.) It is a type of chronic pain that results in an unexplained, and unexpected, level of discomfort.

The cause is not entirely known. CRPS most often appears after a severe, traumatic injury to an arm or leg, but may also arise after surgery, illness, or a less serious injury. It may be due to a problem with the nervous system's response to inflammation from the injuries or illnesses.

Symptoms include an area of the arms or legs that is throbbing, burning, swollen, and overly sensitive; may appear cold, sweaty, white, mottled, blue or shiny; and may display weakness and atrophy (muscle loss.) The pain may be exacerbated by emotional distress.

It is important to see a medical provider for these symptoms. The sooner treatment can begin, the better the results.

Diagnosis is made through patient history and physical examination. Nerve studies and imaging may also be done.

Treatment involves some combination of neuropathic pain relievers, antidepressants, corticosteroids, and various physical therapies.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: pain in one arm, pain in one leg, pain in one foot, tremor, fatigue

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Real-life Stories

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Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Pain In The Top Of The Foot

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Have you ever been told you have flat feet?
  • Did you recently injure your foot?
  • How would you explain the cause of your foot pain?
  • Has a bunion formed on your foot?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Pain In The Top Of The Foot Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your pain in the top of the foot

Pain In The Top Of The Foot Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced pain in the top of the foot have also experienced:

  • 7% Swollen Foot
  • 5% Swelling Of The Top Of The Foot
  • 3% Big Toe Pain

People who have experienced pain in the top of the foot were most often matched with:

  • 42% Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • 42% Posterior Tibialis Tendinopathy
  • 14% Morton Neuroma

People who have experienced pain in the top of the foot had symptoms persist for:

  • 32% Over a month
  • 26% Less than a week
  • 22% Less than a day

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

Pain In The Top Of The Foot Symptom Checker

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