Lateral foot pain—pain on the side of the foot—can be caused by strains, injuries or poor alignment or circulation within the foot or leg. Athletes and people who work on their feet all day frequently suffer from lateral foot pain, but it can affect people who don't participate in much physical activity, as well.
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An inversion sprain occurs when a person rolls their ankle, causing ligaments on the outside of the ankle to tear. Pain originates around the ankle and usually emanates through the side of the foot and occasionally through the heel.
Arthritis can cause pain throughout the entire foot but often wreaks havoc along the side of the foot. Prior injury frequently results in arthritis later in life. Earlier strains within the metatarsals, ankle or heel often cause arthritis in the foot, but arthritis can also be a result of frequent wear and tear.
Pain can also result from fractures to the bones along the side of the foot or ankle. Fractures, which are cracks within a bone, are extremely painful and usually caused by an injury or fall. Hairline fractures, which are extremely small cracks in the bone, are also painful and occur most frequently in athletes as a result of impact stress from repetitive movements on the feet.
Cuboid subluxation, also known as cuboid syndrome, occurs most often in dancers and other athletes. Repetitive movements wear down muscles in the side of the foot, and these muscles can eventually rotate the cuboid bone. Pain usually is focused on the side of the foot and radiates throughout the middle of the foot and sometimes through the ankle.
Tarsal coalition occurs most frequently in adolescents, particularly those involved in athletics, and usually involves pain in the side of the foot that radiates throughout the middle of the feet and the toes. The foot usually becomes stiff and sometimes causes sufferers to limp.
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