Why Do I Have Pain on the Outside of My Foot (Little Toe Side)?

Foot laying on it's sideAs an athlete you know you're prone to injury. You're familiar with many of the more common foot pain problems such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. But recently you've experienced pain on the outside of your foot where your little toe is.

Now you're wondering what that could possibly be.

As your Seattle podiatrist I'm here to let you know that every part of your foot is vulnerable to injury particular when you stress it--including the outside of your foot. It's important to curtail any sports activities until your foot is properly evaluated by a podiatrist to prevent any further injuries.

Pain on the outside of the foot can be a sign and symptom of the following conditions:

Stress fracture

Stress fractures are tiny, hairline cracks in the bone associated with overuse. If ignored, these cracks can turn into breaks so important to get them treated.

Cuboid syndrome

Cuboid syndrome occurs when the cuboid bone goes out of alignment with the heel bone. Pain increases when weight is placed on the arch or side of the foot.

Peroneal tendonitis

The Peroneal tendons are located on the outside of the ankle. When these tendons become inflamed (peroneal tendonitis) they may cause pain around the backside of the ankle, over the outside of the heel where they run under the bump in your heel bone.  

Jones fracture

Jones fracture is a fracture of the 5th metatarsal bone on the outside of the foot. It can occur through forceful impact to the outside of the foot, through overuse, or following an ankle sprain.

Sinus tarsi syndrome

The sinus tarsi is a small bony canal located just in front of the protruding side ankle bone. Injury to the sinus tarsi is caused by overuse or an ankle sprain. Symptoms often include:

  • Pain can be experienced on the side and the front of the ankle.
  • Pain can develop over time or follow a period of increased physical activity
  • Symptoms often worsen  when standing, walking, or running around a curve
  • This syndrome is often associated with flat feet.

Bunionette or Tailor's Bunion

A Tailor's bunion is located on the outside of the little toe. Just like a regular bunion it's caused by having faulty foot structure, such as flat feet.

Treatment for Pain On the Outside of the Foot

Treatment for this type of pain depends on the diagnosis, however, there are many commonalities.

  • RICE - rest, ice, compression, and elevation are always recommended for acute injuries.
  • Stop physical activity - many side of foot pain conditions are brought on as a result of participation in sports.  Ceasing these activities gives the foot time to heal.
  • Reduce inflammation - inflammation is always a concern with an injury. Reducing that inflammation is essential to start the healing process. Anti-inflammatory medication, cortisone shots and MLS laser therapy can both help in your recovery.
  • Foot immobilization - in addition to stopping your physical activity your podiatrist may also put your foot in a walking boot to give your injury a better chance of healing properly.
  • Special padding - in some cases specialized padding will assist in off-loading weight from the affected area such as the pad used to treat the Cuboid Syndrome.
  • Stretching tight calf muscles - tight calf muscles often play a big role in causing foot and ankle injuries. When the calf muscle is too tight the foot and ankle can't move properly. The stress gets transferred to areas of the foot that aren't designed to handle it. We recommend going beyond wall stretches for calf muscles. Instead we recommend using an Achilles splint during the day.
  • Custom orthotics - many people have poor foot mechanics.  This can lead to injuries particularly when someone is active in sports. Custom orthotics are designed to prevent the foot from pronating or supinating and are recommended when either of these problems are seen.
  • Appropriate footwear - wearing footwear designed for the sport the person engages in can help prevent side of foot injuries. A shoe with a wider toe box is recommended to accommodate the foot with certain conditions such as a Tailor's bunion.

If you're experiencing pain on the side of your foot, give us call at 206-368-7000 to set up an appointment or request an appointment online.