What Causes Pain on Top of the Foot and Can We Ease It? Here Are 3 Causes– and 5 Solutions


Causes of Pain on Top of the Foot and How to Ease It

Foot pain on the top of the foot can be caused by several different things.

Here are three conditions that can cause pain on top of the foot:

  1. Stress Fractures

  2. Bone Spurs

  3. Extensor Tendonitis

Let's talk a little about these three conditions, then give you some ways to deal with extensor tendonitis pain.

3 Possible Causes of Pain On Top of the Foot


What is a Stress Fracture?

A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone or severe bruising within a bone.

How is a stress fracture of the foot caused?

Most stress fractures are caused by overuse and repetitive activity.

Who is at risk for stress fractures?

Runners and athletes who participate in running sports, such as soccer and basketball, are at risk for stress fractures. 


What is a Bone Spur?

With a bone spur, the cartilage between bones can deteriorate over time. The body produces extra growths of bones called bone spurs to compensate for the missing cartilage

What causes a bone spur?

Bone spurs causing pain on top of the foot can be a result of osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis isn’t the only thing that causes a bone spur on top of the foot. A number of other factors can cause deterioration of cartilage, resulting in the growth of a bone spur.

Who is at risk for bone spurs causing pain on top of the foot?

Dancers and runners are prime candidates to develop bone spurs.

Other causes of bone spurs can include the following:

  • injury to the foot

  • obesity or being overweight

  • wearing tight shoes

If you have a bone spur on the foot, it’ll likely appear on top of the mid-foot resulting in the pain on top of the foot.


Extensor Tendonitis 

Extensor tendonitis is inflammation around the tendons on top of the foot. It can cause pain on top of the foot, most likely in the middle between your ankle and the ball of your foot.

Symptoms of extensor tendonitis include:

  • Swelling on the top of your foot

  • Bruising, swelling or redness on the top of your foot

  • Pain in the center of your foot

  • Tightness in calf muscles

If you stand for long periods of time, run or walk on uneven surfaces, or wear shoes that are too tight, extensor tendonitis could be the cause of your top of foot pain.

5 Ways to Stop Pain On Top of The Foot from Extensor Tendonitis


Resting the affected area can do wonders. By taking the stress off of your foot, you give it a chance to heal. If you are having pain on top of your foot, cease high-impact activities such as running for the time being.

It's better to take a break from your favorite activity than to have your performance and enjoyment of that activity compromised by long-term pain. 



Icing an injury can result in less swelling, in turn resulting in less pain. There is a reason that top athletes use cold treatment to keep themselves on top of their game. It works. 


A cold compress can also ease pain from extensor tendonitis. You can also apply an ACE wrap or other store-bought ankle support if necessary. 

New Shoes


Wearing shoes or socks that are too tight can cause pain on top of the foot. Evaluate your footwear and see if

  • You've been tying your shoes too tightly

  • The shoes themselves are too tight

  • The shoes aren't supportive enough for your activity level

If you determine that the shoes themselves are too tight or not supportive enough, look for a new pair. Shoes are made in all shapes, sizes, and levels of support, and your feet are important enough to warrant good-fitting shoes.

See a Professional

If you try the above and you still have problems with pain on top of your foot, see a therapist or an orthopaedic surgeon to ascertain the seriousness of your condition. From there, we can evaluate your situation and recommend a solution.

Good luck!