Upper Foot Pain

What Is The Cause Of Upper Foot Pain?

There can be a number of causes of upper foot pain, but the two most common are bone spurs and stress fractures. Very often, foot pain is the result of poor fitting shoes, excessive walking or running, or standing and walking for long periods of time on a hard surface. Sometimes there is a fine line between what we would call tired feet and actual foot pain.




We can experience pain in different areas of the foot as well as in the junction between the foot and the ankle. Bone spurs in the heel are a common cause, as are the so-called stone bruises of the heel. The pain in this case is experienced in the bottom of the foot, in the sole or the heel, and not in the upper foot. Upper foot pain can vary from something mildly uncomfortable to excruciating, where walking and even tying the shoes can become a real challenge, if possible at all.

Bone Spurs - Bone spurs, or osteophytes, are relatively common. Most all of us have one or more at some place in our body, and most of the time the presence of a bone spur may go unnoticed and not be a cause for any concern. It is only when the spur is present in an area where bone and moving tissue are in contact, say in the shoulder, a hand, or a foot, that the condition becomes painful and eventually requires treatment. Bone spurs typically occur at a joint, and we have a number of joints in each of our feet. We use our feet all the time, not only to propel ourselves, but to carry the weight of our body. A small bone spur, in the toe, the heel, or in one of the metatarsal bones, can be quite painful. When a metatarsal bone, a bone connecting the toe to the rest of the foot, is involved, pain will be felt in the upper foot.

Metatarsal Bone Spurs - A bone spur in one of the metatarsals often coincides with a presence of arthritis in the area, and both the spur and the arthritis may require treatment. Treatment often is no more involved than changing to a different type of shoe, or placing special padding in the shoes you have. To walk around pain free you may end up purchasing a boxy pair of shoes that you otherwise wouldn't be caught dead in. But getting relief from what can be very severe pain is often worth it. The pain can occur while walking, while tying your shoes, and even when putting on a slip-on shoe. The pressure from the top of the shoe can seem unbearable. Cortisone shots or inflammatory drugs often provide sufficient relief, although the relief may be only temporary. Surgery to remove the bone spur may be the best option.

Metatarsal Stress Fractures - The other major cause of upper foot pain is when you have suffered a stress fracture in one of the metatarsal bones. This usually happens in one of the bones leading to a smaller toe, as these are smaller bones than the one leading to the big toe and are more susceptible to this type of injury. A stress fracture, as compared to what we would call a broken bone, is a crack in the bone which can occur if the bone has undergone an unusual amount of stress, or the bone itself has for some reason become weakened due to say a deficiency in calcium or vitamin D. Stress fractures very often occur under conditions of lengthy repetitive motion, such as jogging or marching. The pain from the stress fracture is felt in the upper foot in an area over the affected metatarsal bone. The pain can be tolerable, only noticeable when jumping or hopping on the foot, or it can be severe enough to prevent weight from being put on the foot.

If you are experiencing persistent upper foot pain you should have it looked into. If it's due to a bone spur, medication, cortisone shots, or a change in footwear may solve the problem. If it's due to a stress fracture, which is apt to be a much more painful condition, treatment can range from resting the foot if it is a small crack in the bone, to placing the foot in a cast if the foot needs to be kept stable. There is a danger in ignoring a stress fracture. It could eventually lead to the bone actually breaking.

If your upper foot pain is a one time event, which shortly goes away, you may have stretched or bruised a muscle, and except for taking a pain reliever, nothing more probably needs to be done. If however the pain is sharp and persistent, seek treatment right away before the situation gets worse.