Lateral Foot Pain or Pain on the outer side of the foot

"The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art!" This beautiful saying from Leonardo da vinci clearly depicts the essentiality of foot and each step taken forward in life. Its true our feet help us exploring the world. But at times a pain at the foot restricts us moving a step ahead and yet the foot pain remains not much explored in common cases. Pain of the foot can either occur at the inner side called the Medial foot pain or may occur at the outer side and known as the Lateral foot pain.


There are a lot of things that can lead to lateral foot pain and thus lays many underlying causes for the pain at the outer side of the foot. Just like you cannot ignore seeing the things that lies beside your eyes, you cannot ignore the pain of your foot that lies on its lateral side or on the outer side of the foot. Now, this current article will revolve around some of the major causes and symptoms leading to the lateral foot pain and help us know some of the effective ways of diagnosis and treatments for the pain.

Causes Of Lateral Foot Pain Or Pain In The Outer Side Of The Foot:

As mentioned above that there are a number of causes that can lead to the pain on the outer side of the foot, in this section we will be talking about some of the major conditions causing lateral foot pain.

    1. Tarsal Coalition Leading to Lateral Foot Pain: Tarsal coalition leads to the foot pain on the outer side only in one in hundred cases. The Tarsal Coalition is a condition caused by fusion of the two tarsal bone at the back of the foot on lateral side. The tarsal bone involved are cuboid, cuneiform and navicular bone. Though it is one of the rare conditions leading to lateral foot pain, it would be fair enough to be included under this list. It is a congenital problem and symptoms may include pain, fatigue, flat feet and abnormal or improper walking

Tarsal Coalition Leading to Lateral Foot Pain


    1. Inversion Sprain/Ankle Sprain: Ankle sprain has remained one of the major causes leading to lateral foot pain or Pain in the outer side of the foot. Studies have found that about 85% of the ankle injuries lead to lateral foot pain. Symptoms include the foot pain, swelling, bruising and instability.

Inversion Sprain/Ankle Sprain

    1. Cuboid Syndrome Causing Lateral Foot Pain: Cuboid is one of the seven tarsal bones that is located on the lateral side of the foot. Too much of traction over the cuboid leads to a dislocation of this tarsal bone and causes the Cuboid syndrome. This Cuboid syndrome is considered as one of the major causes for lateral foot pain. Pain is located over the outer side of the foot. Symptoms under this condition may include pain on the lateral (outer) side of the foot, especially during the weight bearing acts may provoke significant risk of ankle inversion sprain and significant excessive pronation.

Cuboid Syndrome Causing Lateral Foot Pain


    1. Peroneal Tendonitis as a Cause for Lateral Foot Pain: Repetitive tension on the peroneal tendon leads to the Peroneal tendonitis. Peroneal tendonitis is a condition that leads to the pain on the lateral side of the foot and around the heel. Excessive running, abnormal positioning of the foot and ankle sprain can cause Peroneal Tendonitis. Common symptoms include pain, irritation, inflammation and degeneration.

Peroneal Tendonitis as a Cause for Lateral Foot Pain

    1. Corns and Calluses: There can also be lateral foot pain caused due to the growth of corns and calluses. Though these corns and calluses develops at any part of the foot, it is most commonly seen on the top and the lateral sides. Corns are usually painful and deeper, though calluses are painless. This occurs mainly due to repetitive stress on a portion of the skin on the foot and the skin in turn forms multiple layer to protect deeper tissue or subcutaneous tissue.
    2. Stress Fractures: Repetitive sports or physical activities lead to a small fracture on one of the foot bones. The stress fracture of one of the lateral (outer) bone causes lateral foot pain. Lateral foot pain due to stress fractures may be caused only if the fracture has occurred in the calcaneus or navicular bones, or the metatarsals depending upon their location. Symptoms here may be mild at the initial stage but may worsen gradually.

Stress Fractures as a Cause for Lateral Foot Pain

  1. Hallux Valgus: This is commonly called as Bunions and is a kind of bone deformity, which leads to a condition where the big toe rotates inwards and starts pointing towards the other toes of the foot. This in turn causes severe lateral foot pain when individual puts most of the weight on lateral side while walking or standing. The pain on lateral side of foot is associated with the symptoms like inflammation, redness and swelling of the big toe.
  2. Arthritis: Arthritis involving foot joint located over lateral side may also be one of the leading causes of lateral foot pain. Arthritis can be either of inflammatory type, i.e. Rheumatoid arthritis or may be of the degenerative type, i.e. Osteoarthritis. Usually the rheumatoid arthritis causes the lateral foot pain.

Diagnosis Of Lateral Foot Pain or Pain On The Outer Side Of The Foot:

Diagnosis of lateral foot pain like any other foot pain will begin by evaluation through the physical examinations like the visual examinations during rest, with weight bearing activities, and with non-weight bearing movements; conducted by the physician. A physical examination by the professional will also let you know if any kind of deformities or injuries are present leading to the lateral foot pain. X-Rays, bone scan and MRIs would get a clear picture on the type and cause of the foot pain. Once your pain is diagnosed, you will be suggested any of the the essential treatments which are mentioned below.

Treatment For Lateral Foot Pain Or Pain On The Outer Side Of The Foot

  1. Medications For Lateral Foot Pain Or Pain On The Outer Side Of The Foot:

    There are over-the-counter medicines which can help reducing the lateral foot pain, and swelling as well as discomfort while ambulating. Tylenol will effectively and immediately reduce the pain. Anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin and ibuprofen can also help to reduce and pain and swelling.

  2. Adjuvant Treatments for Lateral Foot Pain Or Pain On The Outer Side Of The Foot:

    Following adjuvant treatments may assist medication therapy for the effective pain reduction in lateral foot pain-

    • Laser/Light therapy
    • Electric stimulation
    • Surgery in rare and severe cases.
  3. Home Remedies For Lateral Foot Pain Or Pain On The Outer Side Of The Foot:

    Common and effective home remedies for lateral foot pain includes simple rest, ice massaging, uses of crutches heat treatment and trial natural pain therapy depending upon the underlying causes of the lateral foot pain.

    • Rest is the primary step to keep yourself relax when having lateral foot pain
    • You can try out effective ice treatment by applying ice for about 20 minutes. It must be noted that ice can be placed in a plastic bag or wrapped in a towel and may be applied at the affected area of the foot.
    • Using crutches while walking will help you reduce the weight over the foot and may provide enough of pain relief.
    • Heat compression and elevation will also help you treat the pain and swelling to some extent.
    • Trial of natural pain therapy includes use of turmeric paste or fish oil over painful lateral foot.
    • In cases of blisters, corns and calluses leading to the lateral foot pain, simple band-aids are applied over the blisters and corn tape is applied over corn and calluses.
  4. Effective Exercises And Physical Therapies For Lateral Foot Pain Or Pain On The Outer Side Of The Foot:

    "Exercise gets you life!" Here below are some of the most effective and crucial exercises which might help you greatly calm down the pain in lateral foot and reduce various other symptoms of the pain on the outer side of the foot.

    • Muscle strengthening exercises will be prescribed by your physician so as to strengthen the muscles of the affected area and help them correct via exercising
    • Stretches are well effective in reducing the lateral foot pain, but only with proper consultation with the doctor or physiotherapist
    • Flexibility exercises will help you fair in such condition that helps improving the strength of the related muscles and help you manage the stress effectively.
    • Chi techniques and barefoot running may help greatly in treating the lateral foot pain.

    The lateral foot pain can be prevented by taking essential precautions like using properly fitting shoes, having proper rest, proper foot arch support as well as use of orthotics as suggested by podiatric orthopedic surgeon. These precautionary measures when used, prevents lateral foot pain while running, jogging, cycling and swimming. The use of precautionary measures avoids the foot having repetitive impact with the ground while involved with fitness activities as well as prevent the pain from getting worse.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: January 4, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer


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