7 Common Causes of Top of the Foot or Ankle Pain

May 5, 2020 3:47 pm Published by

Experiencing pain across the top of your foot is pretty common. Of course, even if the pain is not the result of anything extremely serious, discomfort along the top of your foot or ankle is not something you should ignore. After all, even a minor injury or condition can have long-term implications, such as chronic pain or an additional injury, if not properly addressed. 

The following are the seven most common reasons you might be experiencing this type of foot and/or causes of ankle pain:

1.) Break or Fracture

A break or fracture in your foot or ankle will obviously cause you pain. This break or fracture could have been caused by a variety of factors, ranging from something as severe and violent as a car crash to something as innocuous as a fall or simple misstep. Each fracture or break will vary in severity, from a tiny crack to a break so extreme that the bone pierces the skin. 

As you might expect, the treatment for a broken foot or ankle depends on the severity and location of the injury. Sometimes, it is severe enough to merit surgery, other times it can be handled with a splint, cast or walking boot.

2.) Tendonitis

There are five forms of tendonitis that can lead to pain on the top of your foot or your ankle, including tendonitis affecting the Achilles, tibial, flexor, peroneal, and extensor regions. 

In many cases, these conditions will heal themselves with at-home self-care. However, it’s important to have a proper evaluation of the condition to ensure this temporary pain doesn’t become chronic. Learn more about the five causes and treatments for tendonitis here.


3.) Stress Fracture

This injury is caused when the bone isn’t broken or fractured but has a tiny crack or cracks. Stress fractures are usually the result of repetitive force, often from overusing the joint or foot. A stress fracture can happen in normal, healthy bones but can also be the result of a bone being weakened by osteoporosis. 

Stress fractures are often caused by doing too much too soon, which could occur when you start a new exercise regimen. Your bone tends to gradually adjust to increased use. When you jump in too soon, this can push the bone beyond its ability to adequately adjust. Of course, stress fractures can also be the result of consistent extreme use, as is the case for athletes. Read up on the tips for healing and preventing further stress fractures in our other blog posts. 

4.) Gout

This common arthritic condition can affect your feet and is caused by a build-up of uric acid. The end result is an intensely painful, swollen joint that feels as if it’s on fire. The pain is often described as sudden and severe. 

Thankfully, there are many home remedies you can try to reduce your gout pain. Of course, in some cases, these treatments will only yield temporary relief. If you find yourself struggling with chronic gout pain and nothing you have tried is helping, it is likely time to seek professional care.

5.) Cysts

There are several types of cysts that can form on and around the foot and ankle region, causing pain and discomfort. They include plantar fibroma, synovial cysts, and ganglion cysts. 

If you have noticed a cyst on the top of your foot, it is likely either a synovial or ganglion variety as these often appear on the top of the feet, along the joint or in the tendon area. Conversely, plantar fibroma forms on the bottom of the feet. Home care, under the advisement of a professional, can be enough to treat cysts, but sometimes surgery or drainage is required.

6.) Arthritis

There are several types of arthritis that can negatively impact your foot and ankle region, such as rheumatoid, reactive, septic, and psoriatic arthritis.

The following is an explanation of each type:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: This is a chronic, autoimmune disorder that can affect your joints, including your ankle and foot joints.
  • Reactive Arthritis: This type of arthritis is brought on by an infection, usually from another part of your body.
  • Septic Arthritis: This is also a type of arthritis caused by an infection. The knee joint is the most commonly affected joint, but septic arthritis can be in any joint of the body.
  • Psoriatic Arthritis: You might experience this type of arthritis if you already have the skin condition psoriasis. However, you might note joint issues before seeing any skin patches form.

7.) Bone Spurs

A bone spur forms when you grow extra bone and usually develops where two bones come together. The bone spurs or projections are often formed as a way for the body to heal itself after an injury, but can also be the result of arthritis as well.

When It’s Time to See a Professional

If you are experiencing any of the above conditions relating to top of foot or ankle and have tried unsuccessfully to treat your pain and discomfort at home, it is likely time to seek the help of a professional. 

There can be serious implications for waiting, as long-term injury could cause other issues for you down the road.

Don’t wait; contact our team at Foot & Ankle Group. We can usually see patients the same day you call, especially if your pain is severe in nature. There is no reason to suffer any longer— call us today!

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