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Podiatry/top of foot pain


i started having pain in my left foot about and inch behind my three smaller toes.  it was just an sudden stabbing pain then its just been a dull aching pain ever since.  sometimes is doesn't hurt until I've been walking on it for hours.  I've been debating on going to the doctor about it but don't want to waste the money on just a sprain.  but if its more serious i will go.

Hi, Derrick,

Thank you for your question.  I have a few thoughts, but in order to answer it, I need a little more information.  Did anything happen to your foot, any twisting or unusual movement, when the pain began?  How long ago did it start?  Did you change any activities (ie start walking on the treadmill, begin a new exercise program, start training for a marathon, or change jobs from a sitting position to one that requires more standing, walking, etc) or start wearing different shoes around the time that it began, or a couple weeks before?  Do you find that certain shoes make it hurt more than others?

If there was a specific moment when it started, and you remember injuring it at that time, then it might be a muscle strain or mild foot sprain.  If it's been a couple of weeks or less and the pain is decreasing, I'd encourage you to take it easy, give your body time to heal, and see what happens.  If you have good circulation to your feet and good feeling in your feet, you could try icing it (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off...don't keep ice on it for a long time).  You can also take something like Motrin or Ibuprofen to decrease pain and swelling, as long as you're normally able to take those medicines.

However, if that pain continues beyond a couple of weeks, I'd definitely recommend getting it checked out.  And if you don't remember an injury, I'd also suggest that you get it looked at.  The reason is that it could potentially be something more serious, like a stress fracture.  A stress fracture is a hairline fracture in the bone, which can lead to a complete fracture if not treated properly.  And you don't have to have an injury to get a stress fracture.  Sometimes repetitive motion, like a lot of standing and walking, can cause it.  It could also be a neuroma, which is an inflamed nerve that sometimes gets squeezed between two bones and is worse when you walk.  A podiatrist can help with that, too.

When in doubt, I'd recommend that you make the investment to get it looked at by a specialist such as a podiatrist who deals with these kinds of problems all the time.  Your feet are important, and we often take them for granted until it's too late.

I hope this helps.  Feel free to write again if you have any more questions or need more clarification.  Best of luck to you, and I hope your feet are back to their normal, pain-free selves again soon!

Wishing you health, happiness, and peace,
Dr. Bodart  


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Dr. Amy Bodart


Questions relating to podiatry: medicine and surgery of the foot, ankle, and distal leg


Associate at Advanced Podiatry, 2919 W Swann Ave, Tampa, FL 33609


Graduated from the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in Cleveland, OH 3-year forefoot and rearfoot residency training from Kendall Regional Medical Center in Miami, FL

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