Runners’ Puzzle: What Causes Pain On Top of the Foot?


Sometimes those who are physically active, especially runners, will experience foot pain on the top of the foot. Unlike shin splints or plantar fasciitis, this type of pain may be hard to diagnose. There are several injuries that can cause pain on top of the foot and it’s best to have an experienced foot doctor make the call.

Stress fracture. Pushing too hard and too fast with your training can cause a metatarsal stress fracture. These bones are in the center of the foot and this injury can occur when returning to running after, for example, resting an injury. In addition to pain on top of the foot, you also may see swelling. Your doctor will probably recommend rest and immobilization to give the bone time to heal. Patience is required so that a stress fracture doesn’t turn into a full fracture.

Tendonitis. Pain that is concentrated in the middle of the foot and the instep by the big toe can be tendonitis. Shin splints may also be associated with this type of tendonitis. Icing and anti-inflammatory medications can ease the pain. Toe-grip exercises can relieve the stress on the tendon. Custom-fitted orthotics can help redistribute pressure.

Vamp disease. The front top of a shoe is called the “vamp,” and so irritation of the skin on top of the foot is called vamp disease. This problem can occur when running shoes are too tight and may be easily alleviated by loosening the laces. Always select well-fitting athletic shoes and replace them as they wear out. The pain from vamp disease should subside quickly as the inflammation goes away.

Neuroma. A burning sensation or sharp pain that shoots into your toes may be caused by a neuroma, or inflamed and swollen nerve. This problem is usually caused by shoes that are too tight in the toes or too small. Visit your doctor to confirm that the pain is related to a neuroma. Icing and taking anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce the inflammation. Choose shoes with more room in the forefoot.

We Can Help Diagnose and Treat All Types of Foot Pain

The foot specialists at PodiatryCare, PC and the Heel Pain Center have extensive experience in treating all aspects of foot problems. Our team of doctors which consists of Dr. Robert Marra, Dr. Thomas Johnson, Dr. Kristen Winters, Dr. Laura Vander Poel, and Dr. Ryan Donegan is dedicated to serving you with all of the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies. Many treatments and surgeries can be handled right in our offices. Please call us at (860) 741-3041 to make an appointment in one of our offices conveniently located in Enfield, Windsor and South Windsor, CT.