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Lateral Foot Pain Causes and Treatments

Lateral foot pain is characterized by pain on the outer side of the ankle. Some common symptoms that may also occur with lateral foot pain are inflammation, numbness or tingling, stiffness, bruising, difficulty walking, or weakness in the feet, all of which increase the risk of falling.

Lateral foot pain can even affect sleep, especially while attempting to sleep on the affected side. The symptoms of lateral foot pain can range from mild to severe, depending on the underlying cause of the lateral foot pain.

There are many causes of lateral foot pain, each requiring different treatment plans. Although many treatments will be generally universal, it is suggested to see a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and prompt treatment.

What is Lateral Foot Pain?


Lateral foot pain refers to pain on the foot’s outer side. This type of pain is felt in the area between the ankle and the fifth (pinky) toe. The pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp, stabbing sensation, and it can be accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling, redness, and tenderness.

There are several potential causes of lateral foot pain, including injuries, overuse, certain medical conditions, and underlying structural problems. Some common causes of lateral foot pain include peroneal tendonitis, stress fractures, ankle sprains, and Morton’s neuroma.

See a doctor if you’re experiencing lateral foot pain, as they can help determine the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan specific to your needs. Treatment may involve rest, physical therapy, medications, or in some cases, surgery.

What Causes Lateral Foot Pain?

Lateral foot pain refers to pain on the outer side of the foot. There are several causes of lateral foot pain, including:

Peroneal Tendonitis

Peroneal tendonitis is a condition that results from inflammation of the peroneal tendons, which are located on the outer side of the ankle. The peroneal tendons play an important role in stabilizing the ankle and enabling normal foot and ankle movements.

Lateral Foot Pain Causes and Treatments

Peroneal tendonitis can be caused by a variety of factors, including overuse, repetitive activities, ankle instability, and direct trauma to the ankle. People who participate in sports that require repetitive twisting motions, such as basketball or soccer, are at an increased risk of developing peroneal tendonitis.

Treatment for peroneal tendonitis typically involves rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications. In some cases, physical therapy or orthotics may be recommended to help alleviate symptoms and improve ankle stability. If conservative treatment is ineffective, surgery may be necessary to repair the affected tendon.

Stress Fractures

Stress fractures are small cracks in bones that occur due to repetitive overuse or stress. They are a common injury among athletes, military personnel, and other individuals who engage in physical activity that places repeated stress on their bones.

Stress fractures are often caused by overuse or repetitive stress. Still, they can also occur due to poor nutrition, a sudden increase in physical activity, or underlying conditions that weaken bones, such as osteoporosis.

Treatment for stress fractures typically involves rest, immobilization of the affected limb, pain management, and physical therapy. In some cases, a cast or brace may be necessary to immobilize the affected bone and allow it to heal correctly. If the stress fracture is severe or does not respond to conservative treatment, surgery may be necessary to repair the affected bone.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints and surrounding tissues. This inflammation can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and eventual damage to the affected joints, leading to impaired mobility and decreased quality of life.

In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the joints and surrounding tissues, leading to inflammation and damage. The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors.

Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis typically involves a combination of medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. Medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and biological agents, can help reduce inflammation and slow joint damage. Physical therapy can help improve joint function and mobility, while lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in regular physical activity, can help manage symptoms and improve overall health.

Lateral Ligament Injuries (Including Ankle Sprains)

The lateral ligaments of the ankle provide stability to the outer side of the ankle. Injuries to these ligaments can cause pain and swell on the foot’s outer side.

Lateral ligament injuries refer to sprains or tears of the ligaments on the outside of the ankle, which provide stability to the ankle joint. Lateral ligament injuries are common in athletes and individuals who participate in physical activities that place stress on the ankles, such as running, jumping, or playing sports that involve sudden changes in direction. For example, an ankle sprain occurs when the ankle is suddenly turned or twisted, causing the ligaments to stretch or tear.

The severity of a lateral ligament injury can range from a mild sprain, in which only a few ligament fibers are damaged, to a more severe sprain, in which multiple ligaments or the entire ligament is torn.

Treatment for a lateral ligament injury typically involves the use of the R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method, along with over-the-counter pain medication to help manage pain and swelling. In more severe cases, a doctor may recommend physical therapy or the use of a brace or crutches to help support the affected ankle during the healing process.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair severely damaged ligaments or to address any long-term complications from an ankle sprain.

Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s neuroma is a condition that affects the nerves in the feet, specifically the nerve that runs between the third and fourth toes. It is characterized by the development of a thickened, painful mass of tissue around the nerve, caused by repeated pressure and irritation of the nerve.

Morton’s neuroma is more common in women and is often associated with wearing tight, high-heeled shoes or participating in physical activities that put repeated pressure on the ball of the foot.

Treatment for Morton’s neuroma typically involves conservative measures, such as changing to more supportive, low-heeled shoes, using orthotics to redistribute pressure away from the affected nerve, and taking over-the-counter pain medication to help manage symptoms. In more severe cases, a doctor may recommend physical therapy, cortisone injections, or, in rare cases, surgery to relieve the pressure on the affected nerve.

How Does Lateral Foot Pain Feel?

Sensations associated with lateral foot pain can vary in intensity and duration and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling, redness, and tenderness. The exact sensation can vary depending on the underlying cause of the pain, but it may be exacerbated by activities such as walking, running, or standing for long periods.

Patients with lateral foot pain may describe the sensation as anything from dull and aching, to shooting or stabbing, to the area being completely numb or tingling.

For example, a lateral ligament injury of the ankle typically causes a sharp or sudden pain along the outer side of the ankle at the time of the injury. This pain may be accompanied by a “popping” or “snapping” sensation.

The pain may be severe, making it difficult to bear weight on the affected foot. In some cases, there may also be swelling and tenderness in the affected area. The pain may persist and become more of a dull ache as the inflammation and swelling subside.

How Can Custom Orthotics Help Relieve Lateral Foot Pain?

Custom orthotics can help relieve lateral foot pain by providing support to the foot and reducing pressure on the affected area. They redistribute pressure, reducing pain and helping to prevent further injury.

Custom orthotics stabilize and reduce the risk of ankle sprains or other damage. They can also help correct any structural abnormalities in the foot, such as flat feet or high arches, that may contribute to lateral foot pain.

Custom orthotics can help absorb shock when walking or running, reducing foot stress and the risk of injury. Since custom orthotics are made to fit the unique shape and needs of an individual’s feet, they can provide more effective and targeted support than over-the-counter orthotics.

What are Some Other Treatments for Lateral Foot Pain?

In addition to custom orthotics, several other treatments can help relieve lateral foot pain, including:

Lateral Foot Pain Causes and Treatments
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help improve strength, flexibility, and stability in the foot and ankle, reducing the risk of injury and relieving pain.
  • Pain medication: Over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Rest and ice: Resting the affected foot and applying ice can help reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  • Bracing: A brace or ankle support can help provide stability and support to the affected foot, reducing the risk of injury and relieving pain.
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises: Stretching and strengthening exercises can help improve flexibility, stability, and strength in the foot and ankle, reducing the risk of injury and relieving pain.
  • Massage therapy: Massage therapy can help improve circulation, reduce tension and stress in the affected area, and relieve pain.
  • Injections: In some cases, a doctor may recommend an injection of cortisone or other pain-relieving medication to help relieve pain.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to address any underlying structural issues or to repair damaged tissues.

It’s important to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, as the most effective treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your lateral foot pain. Your doctor can help determine the best course of action, which may involve a combination of these treatments.

Finding Custom Orthotics to Relieve Lateral Foot Pain

Custom Orthotics For Lateral Foot Pain Relief

Although many solutions may reduce your lateral foot pain, our custom orthotics are guaranteed to help your feet feel better. Bilt Labs gives you 6 months to try the orthotics. If you don’t see any change, you are entitled to a full refund on return. It’s risk-free and the process for getting the orthotics is simple.

You order the orthotic, and we send a foot impression mold to you. You step into it, answer some questions, send it back to us, and expect your new customized orthotics to come straight to your doorstep. It’s so easy you don’t even need to leave home!

Custom orthotics will correct most of these conditions over time, but they will relieve the majority of the foot pain associated with all of the above. No matter which of these conditions may cause your lateral foot pain, chat live with us now or email your information so our team of professionals can find the solution right for you. Our goal is to protect your feet and keep them free of pain or injuries for years to come.