Upper foot pain strikes

Why Does My Upper Foot Hurt?

Upper foot pain can seriously inhibit your day-to-day activities. Unfortunately, more Americans experience this pain than one might think. Obviously, your feet are one of the body parts that experience the most wear and tear. Here are 10 common causes and solutions for your upper foot pain.

Stress Fractures

Stress fractures are hairline fractures that are usually located in one or more of your metatarsals, which are essentially located in the upper section of your foot. The fracture itself is usually caused by excessive overloading, such as jumping, kicking and running. Muscle weakness will accelerate this process even more, and it’s usually the result of a sudden increase in activity. Some symptoms that you may experience are pain, inflammation and swelling. In this case, the best thing for you to do is rest, ice the area, use an ankle/foot brace, and in severe cases, have surgery.

Extensor Tendonitis

If you experience irritation and inflammation at the top of your upper foot, rather than the bottom, the tendons may indeed be the culprit. Tight shoes, calf tightness, spending time on your feet, altered foot bio-metrics and walking/running on an uneven surface are usually common causes of this tendon damage. Other symptoms include swelling and bruising. If you suspect any of these causes to be the case, such as tight shoes, eliminate them immediately and get some rest. Ultrasound is one effective treatment for this particular kind of pain.

Painful upper foot

Sinus Tarsi Syndrome

This problem tends to be the most common among those who experience upper foot pain. The pain resulting from this specific condition is heavily localized between the top of the foot and ankle, around where the metatarsals meet the ankle. Ankle sprain happens to be one of the major causes of this condition. Other causes include uneven bio-metrics and excessive wear on the foot, specifically from basketball and ballet. Stiffness is another symptom that's usually associated with sinus tarsi syndrome. Icing, light exercises, joint mobilizations, stability training, and most of all, rest, are all great treatments.

Hammer/Claw/Mallet Toe

This is another common yet noticeable ailment that you may be suffering from. The term hammer, claw or mallet toe refers to the deformation of the small toe bones. In rare cases, one may be simply born with it. However, the most likely cause in your situation is poor-fitting footwear, such as high heels or narrow shoes. The first obvious symptom to look out for is abnormal toe positions. Another thing to look out for is pain and stiffness located in your toes. At this point, it's imperative that you get proper fitting shoes. Other treatments include toe exercises, yoga, injections and surgery.


Before analyzing symptoms and causes mentioned above, first get checked by your doctor to see if you have gout. Gout is an inflammatory arthritis that results from high levels of uric acid, causing painful crystals to form in your joints, primarily the big toe. The pain itself is described as a sudden, intense pain that causes redness, swelling, heat and tenderness that often takes place during the night hours. The only medical options available for Gout are medication, steroids and ice.

Nerve Entrapment

Nerve entrapment occurs when one of the nerves in your foot gets pinched or squashed. Again, tight footwear can be the main cause of this condition. However, dropping something heavy on your foot can be the culprit as well. The easy way to distinguish nerve entrapment from other conditions mentioned above is a sudden "shooting" pain, resulting from a pinched nerve. Another tell-tale sign to look out for is a very sharp pain that's located in a very tiny area. The best solution is to eliminate all causes and get rest.

Cream on upper athletes foot

Athlete's Foot

Unlike other upper foot conditions mentioned on this list, athlete's foot can occur anywhere on the foot. It's estimated that around 15 percent of the population experiences athlete's foot at some point in their lives. Simply put, athlete's foot is a fungal infection of the skin. Common causes include poor hygiene, excessive moisture, tight shoes, damp socks, humid environments and warm conditions, basically anything that would promote fungus growth. Your best bet would be to eliminate any of these causes all together.

Ganglion Cyst

A Ganglion cyst is a tiny area of swelling that's filled with a jelly-like fluid, typically located around the joints and tendons of your foot. Unlike many other upper foot disorders, a Ganglion cyst produces zero pain, making it generally harmless. Although there's no well-known cause, aging and previous injuries are thought to be associated with these cysts. Fortunately, they generally disappear over time, especially with the use of ointments and other medicine. If you want to go the fast route, you can look to surgical alternatives.

Tarsal Coalition

Keep in mind that this is a rare foot condition, affecting a mere 1 percent of the population. This is where two or more of the tarsal bones connect with a "bridge" of excess bone growth. Tarsal Coalition is more often than not caused by a genetic problem. The condition is common in children 10 to 15 years old, causing them upper-foot pain, stiffness and instability. The only available treatments for such a condition are surgery, orthotics and immobilization casts. If you happen to have the condition, it's imperative that you get it treated right away, as the condition only gets worse with time.

Tibialis Anterior Tendonitis

This disorder is inflammation and degeneration of the tibialis anterior tendonitis, which is caused by excessive stress to the tendons by activities such as running, kicking, snowboarding and other activities. Inappropriate exercise techniques and muscle weakness are thought to be secondary causes. This condition will cause pain at the top of your foot and front ankle. However, the pain is usually very gradual. The best treatments for tibialis anterior tendonitis are rest, ice, exercise, medication and other activities.