Pain in the top of the foot

Pain in the top of your foot will often get better in a few weeks. See a GP if it does not improve.

How you can ease pain in the top of your foot

If you see a GP about pain in the top of your foot, they may suggest you try these things:


  • rest and raise your foot when you can

  • put an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas in a towel) on the painful area for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours

  • wear shoes with plenty of room for your feet, which have a low heel and soft sole

  • use soft insoles or pads you put in your shoes

  • try to lose weight if you're overweight

  • try regular gentle stretching exercises of your foot and ankle

  • use painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen gel (or ibuprofen tablets if needed)


  • do not do any sports or other activity that you think is causing the pain

  • do not walk or stand for a long time

  • do not wear high heels or tight or pointy shoes

A pharmacist can help with foot pain

You can ask a pharmacist about:

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • pain in the top of your foot is stopping you doing normal activities
  • the pain is getting worse or keeps coming back
  • the pain has not improved after treating it at home for 2 weeks
  • you have any tingling or loss of sensation in your foot
  • you have diabetes and a foot pain – foot problems can be more serious if you have diabetes

Immediate action required: Go to an urgent treatment centre or A&E if:

  • you have severe pain in the top of your foot
  • you're not able to walk
  • your foot has changed shape or is at an odd angle
  • you heard a snap, grinding or popping noise at the time of injury
  • you feel faint, dizzy or sick from pain

These might be signs of a broken bone after an injury.

What we mean by severe pain
Severe pain:
  • always there and so bad it's hard to think or talk
  • you cannot sleep
  • it's very hard to move, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, wash or dress
Moderate pain:
  • always there
  • makes it hard to concentrate or sleep
  • you can manage to get up, wash or dress
Mild pain:
  • comes and goes
  • is annoying but does not stop you doing daily activities

Common causes of pain in the top of the foot

Pain in the top of your foot is often caused by exercising, especially if it involves running, kicking or jumping.

It may also be caused by wearing shoes that are too tight and some conditions, like gout.

Your symptoms might give you an idea of what's causing your pain. Do not self-diagnose – see a GP if you're worried.

Symptoms Possible cause
Pain, swelling, bruising, started after intense or repetitive exercise Sprain or strain
Pain, swelling and stiffness that lasts a long time, a grating or crackling sensation when you move the foot, a lump along a tendon Tendonitis or osteoarthritis
Red, hot, swollen skin, sudden or severe pain when anything touches your foot, pain usually starts near the bottom of the big toe Gout

If you're not sure what's causing pain in the top of the foot

Do not worry if you're not sure what the problem is.

Follow the advice on this page and see a GP if the pain does not get better in 2 weeks.


Self-refer for treatment

If you have pain in the top of your foot, you might be able to refer yourself directly to services for help with your condition without seeing a GP.

To find out if there are any services in your area:

  • ask the reception staff at your GP surgery
  • check your GP surgery's website
  • contact your integrated care board (ICB) – find your local ICB
  • search online for NHS treatment for foot pain near you

Page last reviewed: 15 February 2022
Next review due: 15 February 2025