Lateral Foot Pain - It's Complicated


Lateral foot pain is any pain or discomfort along the outside of the foot. It is one of the most common complaints seen by podiatric physicians because it can effect mobility and make almost any form of exercise painful. Lateral foot pain is often accompanied by instability, tenderness, swelling, difficulty in walking and pain that is usually constant with activity. The pain can be mild or severe. It can occur gradually or come on suddenly in the form of a stabbing pain. Although the pain may decrease or completely subside when resting, it tends to reoccur. Dealing with lateral foot pain can be frustrating and difficult to control unless you get to the cause of the problem.


The cause of lateral foot pain can be complicated because there are various conditions that contribute to pain along the outer edge of the foot ranging form congenital deformities and structural problems to stress fractures and ankle sprains or just from wearing improper footgear that aggravates the biomechanics of the lower extremity. There is much to rule out including overuse syndromes especially those that involve the cuboid bone, one of several bones on the outside of the foot that provides stability and connects the foot to the ankle. An injury or dislocation of the joints or ligaments around the cuboid bone or repetitively stress in this area set up a series of events that result in lateral foot pain.


Another cause of lateral foot pain involves inflammation and repetitive tension on the peroneal tendon from overuse, overloading, abnormal positioning or injuries to the foot and ankle. All can lead to peroneal tendonitis, an irritation or degeneration in the tendons that run along the outside of the ankle and foot resulting in micro-traumas that create pain along the lateral part of the foot. Lateral foot pain may also present as referred pain from pinched or irritated nerves in other parts of the foot and ankle to radiate from inside to the sides of the foot.


There may be are signs that you may have an underlying problem associated with or contributing to lateral foot pain. Thick, raised, hardened skin along the outside of the foot are the result of repetitive stress to the foot and lower extremities or boney abnormalities of regional musculoskeletal structures. Such underlying problems can manifest themselves in pain on the outer side of the foot.


Certain causes of lateral foot pain may only require a minor adjustment and can respond to self-care. However a definitive diagnosis needs to be made and an effective treatment plan initiated to avoid impaired function, deformity, chronic inflammation and continued pain. The cause and severity of the pain should always be taken into consideration before any treatment. If untreated lateral foot pain can lead to surgical intervention.


With 26 bones, 33 tiny joints and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments foot pain can have multiple causes and numerous types of pain. If your our experiencing unresolved lateral foot pain consult with your podiatric physician to help sort it out.

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