Question: what causes sharp pain top of foot when walking or running?
According to the CDC, at 20, the average weight of US men and women are 195.7 and 168.5 pounds respectively. This weight is carried by your joints with your feet feeling most of the pressure.
Your feet perform an enormous task by carrying your entire body weight. Therefore, any injury to your ankle and foot is likely to affect your daily routine.
For sportsmen and women, running and walking fast for long distances may also trigger top of the foot pain. This mainly happens if you aren’t using correctly fitted running shoes. Tight shoes, when worn for a long time, can cause undue pressure on your foot bones resulting in pain.
Here’s the thing; Your ankle is made up of bones, cartilages, and ligaments. The bones are hard structures that form the joint while the cartilages hold bones together. Foot tendons are as well important. Tendons attach your muscles to bones.
During movement of your foot, your muscles contracts, pulls the tendons, which in turn allows movement to take place. These tendons run just under your skin and can get easily traumatized. (see image below)
As a result, wearing tight-fitting shoes may cause excessive tension in your foot tendons leading to inflammation. When the foot tendons get inflamed, it causes you to feel pain. The most commonly affected are the Extensor tendons and Tibialis Anterior tendons.
Other causes of upper foot pain are
- Stress fracture
- Sinus tarsi syndrome
- Degenerative or Rheumatoid arthritis
- Deformed toe
So, if you already experience severe top of foot pain when running or walking, its best to see your doctor, especially if the pain is long lasting.
Here are some question to expect from your doctor
- When did you notice the top of foot pain?
- What is the nature of the pain? Is it sharp, dull, tingling, or you feel numb at the affected foot?
- Does pain worsen when pressure is applied to your foot?
- Does pain worsen during movement, running, walking, or exercise?
- Do pain subside after taking a rest?
- Any preceding trauma to your foot?
- Do you wear tightly fitted shoes during exercise?
- Do you feel pain near your toes, especially the big toe?
This article explains causes of a sharp top of foot pain when walking and home remedies you can try to feel better.
What causes pain top of foot when walking?
1. Foot tendonitis
Foot tendonitis (medically referred to as Extensor tendonitis) happens when tendons on foot become inflamed. It is the most common cause of pain top of foot when walking.
Pain is felt at the upper and middle part of the foot and is generally worse when walking or running. At rest, pain usually subsides due to non-movement or no strain on the tendons.
Anatomically, your muscle in your legs connects to your foot bones through tendons. These tendons extend from the lower part of the muscles and attach to the foot.
Of importance are the Extensor Hallucis Longus (EHL) and Extensor Digitorum Longus (EDL) muscles and tendons. The EHL is attached upward to the shin bone (fibula) and moves downwards to your foot where it is attached to your big toe. The EDL originates for the tibia and fibula bones, moves downward to the foot, fans out, diving into four slips and attaching to the lesser toes – (second, third, fourth and fifth toes).
Both muscles and tendons are mostly needed for dorsiflexion. Dorsiflexion means raising your foot towards yourself. Because these tendons pass just beneath your skin, they are susceptible to injury and inflammation.
What causes Foot tendonitis?
Foot tendonitis is particularly common in women and men who do sports. This is because there is increased chance of repetitive injury to your foot tendon.
Also, running on poorly fit shoes can cause injury to your tendons. It is best to avoid tightly laced shoes or any shoes to puts pressure on the top of the foot when walking.
Other causes of foot tendonitis are running uphill or exercising on an uneven surface.
What are the symptoms of foot tendonitis?
If you have top of the foot pain, it could be due to extensor tendonitis. Other symptoms are stiffness and swelling of the foot.
What are treatment options available?
Mild foot pain can be managed at home. This is through the use of THE PRICE THERAPY. This include
- Protecting your foot, ankle, and legs from tight shoes. You should avoid exercise for a while and rest your foot until it completely heals.
- Apply Ice collected in a towel on your foot for about 10 minutes
- To prevent swelling from getting worse, apply a bandage and elevate your foot.
For quick relief of pain, you can use painkillers as well. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs will help ease your pain.
2. Stress fracture
Another reason for swelling and top of foot pain when walking is a stress fracture. Stress fractures are also common in sportsmen (Athletes, football, and basketball players) and are due to a tiny break in one or more of your foot bones. Repeated insult to your bones can cause a fracture.
Also, women who wear high heels are prone to foot and ankle sprain. In severe cases, it may cause tiny fracture of your foot bones causing pain.
What are the symptoms of a stress fracture?
- Sharp top of foot pain that is worst on the affected bone
- Foot pain when walking that subsides after taking a rest
- Swelling of the top of the foot
- In severe cases, inability to bear weight on the affected foot.
How is stress fracture treated?
It is essential you talk to your doctor to diagnose the cause of your pain. At home, you can rest your foot until it heals, avoid weight on the affected foot, apply ice, and elevate foot. You can also use painkillers such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Acetaminophen.
Pain in the top of foot near the toes could be due to Gout or metatarsal fracture. Gout means the sudden onset of pain at your joints that occurs due to a high bone deposit of urine acid crystals.
Your body usually removes uric acid through your kidney. If there are high levels of uric acid in your blood, it forms crystals that are deposited at your joint. This causes severe pain.
Any joint in your body can be affected. However, in more than 50 percent of cases, Gout mainly affects that proximal joint of the big toe.
What causes you to get Gout?
- Taking foods rich in purines – red meat, beans, spinach, asparagus, and lentils
- High alcohol consumption of alcohol
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
- Medications – Furosemide or low dose Aspirin.
What are the symptoms?
- Swelling of the foot
- Sudden excruciating pain at the base of the big toe
- Decreases joint movement
Talk to your doctor if you have severe pain that is sudden and lasting for hours. It could be Gout. Treatment involves the use of painkillers and Colchicine tablets. In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe steroids.
4. Bone inflammation
Another common cause of pain at the top of foot when walking (or at rest) is bone inflammation called Arthritis. There are many different forms of Arthritis, most commonly are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis means bone inflammation from the damage of cartilages and can cause pain at the top of the foot. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when one’s immune system fight your joints causing severe bone pain.
Both forms of Arthritis can cause pain when walking. Talk to your doctor.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What causes burning pain top of foot when walking?
If you are experiencing burning top of foot pain, it is likely because of inflammation of the extensor tendons that run over the top of your foot. It is the most common reason for top foot tenderness and more familiar with athletes, footballers, dancers, and runners.
Other causes are using a tight fitting shoe that hurt your tendons, running uphill, and a sudden increase in the intensity of your exercise.
What causes pain on top of foot near toes?
Pain on top of foot near toes cold happens if you have gout. Gout primarily affects the big toe joint, though could occur elsewhere.
Distal foot pain could happen from stress fracture affecting the metatarsal bones. Other causes are mallet foot or direct injury.
What causes intermittent sharp pain on top of foot?
Sharp pain on top of foot area that comes and goes could happen from Arthritis, Extensor tendonitis, Gout, Nerve compression, and stress fracture.
Talk to your doctor for any concerns you may have.