What are the causes of pain on the dorsum of the foot?

Updated November 21, 2016

There are several conditions that may cause pain on the dorsum (or top) of the foot. Nerve injuries, injuries to bones, ligaments or tendons can also cause foot pain.


The areas of the foot that are most prone to injury are the top of the foot, the toes and the ankle. Bones, tendons and ligaments often produce sharp pain, while nerve injuries may cause a burning or tingling sensation of the foot.

Foot Numbness

Numbness on the dorsum of the foot is a common complaint, especially among people who exercise frequently. The nerves along the top of the foot are prone to injury caused by shoes that are laced too tightly. This may lead to a burning and tingling sensation on the top of the foot, known as paresthesia.

Lump On Top Of The Foot

A bony lump that can appear on the top of the foot is known as a dorsal exostosis. This lump may become painful and irritated. Ice packs and foot elevation can relieve pain and swelling.

Ganglion Cysts

A ganglion cyst is a sac of fluid that commonly develops on the top of the foot. This cyst is caused by a leak of the joint capsule on the dorsum of the foot.

Stress Fracture

A stress fracture in one of the small bones on the top of the foot may cause pain. If a stress fracture is present, there may also be redness and swelling. An x-ray will determine if a fracture of the foot has occurred.


There are many different medical conditions that can cause pain to the dorsum of the foot. It is important to see your doctor regarding any pain that is severe or persistent. This will ensure a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

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About the Author

Tracy Hodge has been a professional writer since 2007. She currently writes content for various websites, specializing in health and fitness. Hodge also does ghostwriting projects for books, as well as poetry pieces. She has studied nutrition extensively, especially bodybuilding diets and nutritional supplements.