10 Problems That Causes Side Of Foot Pain Or Lateral Ankle Pain

Foot pain may occur at any part of the foot; either on the ball of the foot or on the heel of the foot or on the outer side of the foot (lateral foot pain) or on the inner side of the foot (medial foot pain).

Side of Foot Pain

Lateral ankle pain is the pain that is felt on the side of the foot; this pain can be caused by injuries, strains, or bad alignment and circulation of your foot.

This type of pain is most common among people who are involved with heavy walking and sports.

This type of ankle pain may develop gradually or suddenly. Here we list 10 common problems that may be the cause of foot pain occurring on the side.

1- Stress fractures – These are a common cause for side of foot pain. They occur when there is a small break in one of the foot bones, usually resulting from repetitive sporting activities.

Lateral ankle pain due to fractures can result in grade 3 pains, which are usually considered to be the worst! Fractures to the bones along the side of the foot are excruciatingly painful and are caused by falls or injuries. Even the mildest of fractures (hairline fractures) can emit significant degree of pain throughout the foot.

2- Ankle sprain – This is also a common cause for side of foot pain may occur due to a sudden slip while walking, running, jumping, etc. It may affect any of the ligament in the foot.

Lateral ankle pain due to inversion sprain occurs if you accidentally roll your ankle. This sudden roll causes the tendons outside the ankle to tear, resulting in immense pain. This type of pain due to ankle sprain initiates at around the ankle region and can occasionally spread across the sides, all the way up to the heels.

3- Arthritis – Arthritis may cause pain in any side of the foot. It may be Rheumatoid arthritis (due to inflammation) or Osteoarthritis (due to degeneration). Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of cartilage within a joint from physical wear and tear. The joint damage manifests as decreased joint space, worn cartilage, and bone spurs surrounding the joint.

Lateral ankle pain due to arthritis can cause the whole of the foot to pain, more particularly in the areas around the side of your foot.

4- Cuboid syndrome – Cuboid subluxation, also known as cuboid syndrome can lead to lateral ankle pain. It is a less common cause for lateral foot pain. This pain is most common among athletes and dancers, and is a result of wear and tear due to repetitive movements and stress on their foot.

It is caused by one of the small foot bone called Cuboid being partially dislocated out of position due to any injury. Constant movements cause the muscles present at the side of your foot to wear and tear, or rotate the cuboid bone to extreme levels, resulting in pain. This pain is usually concentrated at the side of foot, but can occasionally spread up till the ankle.

5- Bunions – It is one of deformity which causes outside part of foot pain in the big toe. They develop when the big toe rotates inwards towards the other toes. The bunion pain can flare up on occasion and may be accompanied by bursitis over the bunion.

6- Posterior tibial tendinitis – Posterior tibial tendon inflammation leads to this tendinitis. This type causes pain in the inner side of the foot and lateral ankle pain. Sometimes it causes irritation too.

7- Peroneal tendonitis – This causes pain in the outside part of the foot and around the heel. It occurs due to any repetitive tension through the peroneal tendon of the foot.

8- Corns – This can develop anywhere in the foot, but most commonly occur at the top and side of the foot. It affects the deeper layer of skin so it is painful.

9- Nerve problem – Pinched or irritated nerve can be another reason for shooting or burning type of pain that radiates from inside of the ankle to the sides of the foot.

10- Tarsal coalition – It is a rare one, in which there will be connection of two or more foot bones to each other. It is a congenital problem. In adolescents however, pain in the lateral ankle is experienced only by young athletes. It involves pain that is concentrated at the side of the foot that frequently traverses till the toes. This is called tarsal coalition, and it occasionally results in muscle stiffness and cramps.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options for Lateral Ankle Pain

Lateral Ankle Pain

The diagnosis can be made through:

  • Inspection
  • X-ray of foot and ankle
  • Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate Estimation
  • Rheumatoid Factor estimation

Best Management Options for Side of Foot Pain Include:

  • Anti-inflammatory – Naproxyn, Aspercreme, Vaporub.
  • Ice application – Ice is a powerful anti inflammatory. Gel ice pack for 10 minutes is sufficient to treat side of foot pain.
  • Ultrasound – This reduces pain by sending in a high frequency of ultrasonic waves.
  • Epsom salt soaking – The magnesium and sulfate in Epsom salt, reduce the swelling and inflammation.
  • Elevation of affected part – By elevating the affected part you can improve blood supply to the heart, which then supplies enough nourished blood to the affected part.


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