Top of foot pain can range from mildly uncomfortable to quite painful depending on the cause.

The most common causes of pain on top of the feet are:

  • Dorsal compression syndrome (pressure between the joints on top of the foot)
  • Arthritis
  • Stress fracture
  • Nerve entrapment or irritation

Common symptoms of pain on top of the foot include:

  • Aching of the top of the foot without swelling is often due to dorsal compression syndrome or arthritis
  • Swelling and pain on your forefoot are symptoms of a possible stress fracture.
  • Swelling and discomfort may be a symptom of arthritis
  • Tingling that extends towards your toes may be a sign of nerve irritation.

Since these problems may all have different treatments,  the best way to ensure your top of foot pain is properly treated is to first obtain an accurate diagnosis. If the top of your foot hurts, contact the Foot & Ankle Center of Washington for an immediate appointment. On your first visit, we will diagnose your top of foot problems by reviewing your medical history, conducting a physical exam of your foot and, if required,taking x-rays.. We can usually relieve your pain using conservative methods. Surgery is almost never necessary.

Call 206-344-3808 or go here to schedule an appointment.

Treating Top of Foot Pain Conservatively

In the case of dorsal compression, when the foot flattens as you step, the bones on top of the foot compress together which causes pain. The first goal in treating this pain is to limit flattening of the arch so the bones won’t compress against each other. Proper arch supports (in the form of custom orthotics) and proper footwear design  help drastically.

Also, avoid going barefoot even around the house. We may also recommend topical pain relievers and icing. If you take this advice and follow our home treatment plan below, you should experience relief within a week or two if you have dorsal compression. Even if you have foot arthritis, these changes should help bring some pain relief.

6-Step Self-Treatment Plan to Relieve Top of Foot Pain

Make sure you do not have a stress fracture prior to performing home therapy if you have forefoot pain with swelling

We recommend you follow this plan for three weeks. Most people will see relief within the first week or two. If your pain isn’t gone after three weeks, contact us to discuss other treatment alternatives beyond what you can do for yourself.

1. Use an arch support in your outdoor shoes

arch supportA high quality arch support will decrease painful joint motion by preventing arch collapse. We recommend ones with higher arch and some rigidity. Over-the-counter inserts will not work nearly as well as a quality custom orthotic, but are better than nothing. The best one that we have found for foot arthritis is the P3 Full Length Arch Support because it is semi-rigid and has a relatively high arch.

2. Use an arch support at home

indoor arch supportWalking around barefoot will irritate top of foot pain so we recommend you wear slippers with an arch support while at home. For women, we recommend this Vionic Women’s Slipper. We haven’t seen something as supportive for men, but click here to see a selection of sandals that are great for hanging around the house. Be sure to choose non-skid footwear for safety.

3. Ice the foot

Another facet of the recommended top of foot pain home treatment plan is daily icing. At the end of the day, elevate your foot and ice it for 10 minutes each evening. This can reduce pain and swelling caused by arthritis, dorsal compression or injuries.

4. Topical pain relief

topical pain reliefNon-prescription topical analgesics offer relief for many top of foot pain patients. We recommend Orthogel Cold Therapy Relief Gel which provides relief in a couple of different ways. The cold sensation can help address pain and the glucosamine and other ingredients work together to help some patients achieve pain relief. This gel is well-reviewed, particularly among those with arthritis.

5. Choose stable shoes and add an exceptional arch support

stable shoesArch support keeps your feet from flattening and the bones from pressing together painfully. Here are some considerations when choosing shoes to reduce and prevent top of foot pain:

  • Stability A stable shoe will support your foot and keep it from flattening. Shoes should have a firm heel and torsional (anti-twisting) stability. This prevents the heels from rolling inward and the foot from flattening too much, which leads to bones compression. Orthofeet Shoes for Women and Orthofeet Shoes for Men are some of our favorites.
  • Firm Arch SupportThe manufacturer’s insole in your shoes should be removed and replaced with a custom or prefabricated arch support. We like the Powerstep Full Length Arch Support as the best over-the-counter orthotic, as it has high arches and is semi-rigid to decrease painful motion.
  • Custom OrthoticsA custom orthotic that conforms very closely to the top of your foot is another way to reduce top of foot pain. Total Contact Orthotics are prescribed by a podiatrist and fit extremely close to the arches.
  • Shoes for Pain – For persistent top of foot pain issues, special shoes can help. Click here to view all of the best Orthofeet shoes for top of foot pain. These are not your grandma’s orthopedic shoes!

6. Flip-Flops, Sandals and Slippers for Top of Foot Pain

kinetic flipflop top of foot painIn warm weather months, it’s nice to be able to less restrictive footwear like sandals and flip flops, but most of these shoes offer little to no arch support. This will aggravate your top of foot pain. Wearing a supportive flip flop that keeps the arches from collapsing and feels comfortable on the entire foot is important for healing. All of the flip flops we recommend come with built-in arch supports that conform very close to the arch and help reduce the pressure on the bones.

Vionic flop-flops provide outstanding arch support and are perfect for anyone prone to foot problems such as heel pain, ball-of-foot pain, big toe joint pain, tendonitis and overall tired feet. These healthy sandal options combines orthotic treatment and comfort in stylish and sporty sandals.

Go here to browse all Vionic flip-flops, sandals and Slippers

And remember, you don’t have to live with top of foot pain. If you live in the greater Seattle area, contact us for an appointment at our facility conveniently located on Broadway near Swedish Hospital.

Call us at (206) 344-3808 or go here to schedule online.

Video: How to Treat Top of Foot Pain