You might be surprised to know that human foot consists of 26 bones, 33 joints and a complex structure of over 120 muscles, ligaments and nerves! The foot works as a shock absorber and balances our weight, perfectly adjusting the body on uneven surfaces. It serves as a lever while enhancing the forward or backward action of the leg. Why our feet are so stressed will be quite clear after knowing that, on an average, people spend about 5 hours standing and take about 8000 to 10,000 steps or 5 miles a day. So, you should take proper care of your feet, which stand by you in almost each and every activity in life.
Foot pain is not a very serious problem and according to the available statistics, about 75% of Americans experience foot pain at some point in their lives. People may experience heel pain, side foot pain, pain at the bottom of the foot, ankle pain, etc. The symptoms of foot pain may vary according to the causes and location of the foot pain.
Common Causes of Top of Foot Pain
Stress fractures, even hairline fractures can lead to pain on the top of your foot. Reduced bone density due to osteoporosis, inappropriate weight bearing due to high arched foot, weak muscles or reduced flexibility due to arthritis, certain medical conditions like hyperparathyroidism, osteosarcoma, etc., can lead to fractures in the metatarsal area. Pain and swelling on the top of the foot, without any history of trauma, can be due to stress fracture. A person can develop severe but localized pain. The surrounding skin might turn red.
A bone spur in the foot can give rise to a sharp pain in the foot as it starts pressing a nerve, muscles and tendons in the area. Top of foot pain after running or walking can be mainly due to bone spur. An over grown bone, making abnormal protrusions on top of the foot can be the result of arthritic changes in the foot. Damaged joint or even pressure from your shoe on the overgrowth of bone can cause sharp foot pain.
When one of the nerves on the top of the foot becomes traumatized due to any external pressure, like the pressure due to tight shoes, you may experience pain on the top of the foot. The nerve may get entrapped into a bony projection underneath it and can cause burning pain at the site. The nerve becomes inflamed leading to either pain or numbness. A damaged sensory nerve leads to burning pain in the foot.
Top of the foot pain can be experienced as a symptom of bursitis (inflammation of bursae, small sacks of synovial fluid located in the joints of the foot for smooth sliding of the muscles and tendons), arthritis, especially gout, diabetes or tendonitis (inflammation of tendons, the connective tissues), etc.
Overstretched ligaments, resulting in the torn fibers of the tissues are known as sprains. Severe foot pain can be experienced due to sprains or any type of muscular injury.
High-heeled shoes, shoes not fitting perfectly, shoes with faulty cushioning or worn-out shoes may have low shock absorbing capacity, leading to foot pain.
Jamming of the bones on the top of your foot due to fallen arches can cause foot pain (with or without shoes), even though there is no history of trauma.
Ganglion cyst is a spongy to firm lump on top of the foot that may or may not freely move. Pressing the lump may cause pain beneath it.
Prolonged use of steroids can affect bone density resulting in stress fractures, causing foot pain.
Aging, overall weakness, hormonal imbalance, pregnancy, excessive stress in any activity like walking, standing, etc., ingrown toe nails, hammer toes, etc., are some of the common causes of top of foot pain. Sometimes the superficial veins become inflamed and develop a superficial phlebitis which requires proper medical care.
Healthy, balanced diet and regular exercises can help avoid pain on the top of the foot or at the bottom of the foot. A nutrients rich diet ensures proper functioning of body systems and bodily organs. You should also check whether you are wearing properly fitting shoes. Mild foot pain can be cured with oil massage, application of ice and heat and moderate exercises under the guidance of an expert. You can even apply balm or an ointment. Avoid exposing the foot to extreme cold. Try to keep it warm by wearing socks. Sometimes, providing sufficient rest to the foot helps get rid of the pain and discomfort. But for severe pain, you should consult your physician and find out the exact cause behind the pain.
Foot provides us the basic liberty of moving around freely. So you should be extremely careful while walking, running or doing any activity involving foot movement; since the foot is subject to trauma in every step you take.