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Understanding Lateral Foot Pain – Side of Foot Pain

Lateral Foot Pain – Side of Foot – Is it a Stress Fracture?

With 26 bones and 33 joints, foot pain can have multiple causes and numerous types of pain. Lateral foot injuries are those on the little toe side of the foot, whereas medial foot injuries are on the big toe side. Although many mechanisms can be to blame, side of foot pain is often due to overuse, improper footwear, or a combination of both, resulting in injuries including stress fractures, peroneal tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis.

If you’re experiencing lateral or medial foot pain, it’s important not to diagnose the injury yourself, which could lead to more problems. Rather, schedule an appointment with a trusted physical therapist to receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for your specific foot condition.

What Causes Foot Pain on the Side of Your Foot

Lateral foot pain can make it difficult to participate in daily activities — even something as simple as walking or standing. Situations affecting the outside of the foot and ankle can cause pain due to a number of factors, such as joint or tendon inflammation, arthritis, pinched nerves or the presence of fine cracks in the bones.

If left untreated, these conditions can worsen, leading to larger problems such as an ankle sprain, cuboid syndrome, peroneal tendonitis and even a stress fracture.

Is Foot Tendonitis Causing Pain on the Side of Your Foot?

Tendon inflammation, such as peroneal tendonitis, can occur as a result of repetitive tension. Peroneal tendonitis causes the peroneal tendons – the two tendons that extend from the back of the calf over the outer ankle – to swell and become inflamed.

This condition is common in athletes that participate in sports that involve repetitive ankle motions, such as runners, and can worsen with activity. Peroneal tendon injuries are rarely isolated. Often they occur in combination with lateral ankle sprains. Other factors that contribute to peroneal tendonitis include: overuse, a sudden increase in exercise volume, inadequate training techniques, unsupportive footwear.

Patients may experience pain and swelling on the back or side of the foot, pain that worsens with activity, as well as ankle instability. If left untreated, peroneal tendonitis can become much more severe and limiting. Therefore, early treatment is critical to avoid chronic pain and disability.

The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body and plays a big role in the ability to walk, run and jump. Because it is used for activities that put great stress on the tendon, it can be prone to the inflammation called Achilles tendinitis. Achilles tendinitis occurs along the back of the leg and around the heel and back of the foot. Patients report experiencing pain, swelling, and weakness of the tendon.

Common physical therapy interventions for the treatment of foot and ankle injuries include manual therapy, therapeutic exercises involving stretching and strengthening, neuromuscular reeducation, ultrasound and at-home activities that also include strengthening, stretching and stabilization exercises.

Is Your Foot Pain Due to Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis attacks multiple joints throughout the body, often starting in small joints in the hands and feet. Considering your foot contains more than 30 joints, it’s not surprising that arthritis can cause lateral foot pain. If you suffer with ankle arthritis, there is an increased probability you will feel painful impairments in your feet.

One of the most common symptoms of arthritis include pain, swelling and stiffness in the foot and ankle. As the disease progresses, simple movements, such as walking and standing, can become painful.

Physical therapy can help to manage arthritis foot pain and inflammation through various modalities including: massage, cold therapy, neuromuscular reeducation, and ultrasound. Once initial inflammation has been reduced, individualized stretching and strengthening treatment plans can help to restore flexibility, improve strength, and increase balance. Avoiding balance disorder is critical to keep down the risk of falls.

Are Nerve Conditions Causing Your Foot Pain?

Joint pain, sports injuries, At gym, damaged section, Sportsman, ankle sprain, sports accidents

In some cases, pain on the side of your foot or through your arch could be nerve related. This could be due to nerve conditions such as:

  • Morton’s Neuroma- Morton’s neuroma is an inflamed nerve condition that occurs on the bottom of the foot, just behind the 3rd and 4th toes.
  • Pinched Nerve- Nerve entrapment, such as tarsal tunnel syndrome, can be caused by trauma or excessive pressure. If nerves get irritated, patients can experience spontaneous burning, shooting or stabbing pain, even while at rest.
  • Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy- Approximately 1 in 4 people with diabetes will experience neuropathy which can cause pain and numbness in the feet. Numbness of the feet does increase the risk of falling.

Is Your Lateral Foot Pain Due to a Stress Fracture?

Stress fractures are very small cracks in a bone.  The long bones of the feet are called the metatarsals.  The metatarsal along the lateral foot is at high risk of a stress fracture as a result of overuse. Bones in the feet are at risk because they are required to bear body weight during all upright activities’ physical activity.

Throughout an athlete’s career, it’s common to experience foot pain. Whether in gymnastics, soccer, basketball or dance, athletes who constantly use their feet to move quickly, jump or change directions can suffer from foot pain on the side of their foot including stress fractures. 

Athletes are not the only group to experience pain on the side of their foot. Everyday activities as simple as wearing improper footwear or a lack of nutrients can lead to a foot pain. These things can cause a lot of problems, not only for your feet but also for other joints, such as your hips and knees.

Not sure if you have a stress fracture? An X-ray may not be able to capture the smaller cracks, as a result, an MRI may be necessary. 

Can Physical Therapy Help Pain on the Side of Your Foot?

Are you an athlete experiencing lateral foot pain? Are your flimsy sandals causing foot pain in the side of your foot? Physical Therapy could help after you get rid of those sandals!

At Twin Boro, our Physical Therapists have experience in selecting the best treatment options for your foot pain. The aim of physical therapy for pain located on the side of your foot is to help regain normal movement that; improves blood flow, decrease pains, and enhances healing. Your therapist may also recommend certain foot and ankle exercises to do on a regular basis to decrease the risk of foot injury.

Small improvements can make a significant difference in pain levels, the ability to move and quality of life. If you’re experiencing pain on the side of your foot, we invite you to schedule your no-obligation appointment at one of our 27 convenient New Jersey clinics. At Twin Boro, we take the time to properly evaluate and treat patients dealing with different foot or ankle conditions  to help them find the relief they need, fast. 

Call us at1-732-444-3578 to schedule your appointment today.

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Twin Boro Physical Therapy: Voted Readers’ Choice Best of New Jersey

Voted Readers’ Choice Best of New Jersey, Twin Boro has provided NJ residents with high quality physical therapy and rehab for over 39 years! It’s our award-winning approach, proven results and reputation that sets us apart. By incorporating the One2Four program into each patient’s program, the latest and most reliable scientific research and techniques are incorporated into effective evidence-based practice. We deliver only the highest standard of care with the unique One2Four approach.

It’s no surprise that Twin Boro Physical Therapy has also been voted the best physical therapy practice in New Jersey by the readers of mycentraljersey.com.

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