Written By: Chloe Wilson BSc(Hons) Physiotherapy
Reviewed By: FPE Medical Review Board
A lump on top of the foot is a common problem which can affect people at any age.
The foot lump may be hard or soft, painful or painless, small or large and may have developed suddenly or gradually.
Swelling may have developed as a result of an injury or the bump may have appeared due to an underlying foot condition.
In most cases, a bump on top of the foot is nothing to worry about but any new growth should be examined by your doctor to rule out any serious conditions.
Here we will look at the common causes of a lump in the top of the foot, how they present, why they develop and how to treat them.
A lump on top of the foot is usually caused by:
Let’s have a look at each cause for a bump on top of the foot.
A hard lump on top of the foot is most likely due to a bone spur.
This is when small growths of bone, known as osteophytes, form on or between the foot bones resulting in a bone bump.
A bone spur on top of the foot may be caused by:
Two common types of bone spurs that cause a lump on top of the foot are:
A bone bump on top of the foot is not normally painful unless it is associated with arthritis, but may become uncomfortable if it rubs on footwear.
Another common cause of a lump in the top of the foot are cysts. Ganglion cysts can occur anywhere on the foot whereas mucous cysts tend to develop on the toes, paticularly around the nail.
Mucus cysts and ganglions look and feel like smooth, spongy bumps on top of the foot or toes
These cysts are non-cancerous lumps, typically round or oval-shaped that are filled with thick, clear, jelly-like fluid.
A ganglion may result in a small, pea-sized lump on top of the foot but can grow to the size of a golf ball.
Digital mucous cysts ganglion foot lumps are completely harmless and are usually painless unless it is pressing on one of the foot nerves. If the cyst is located near one of the joints in the foot it can interfere with ankle, foot or toe movement.
A ganglion lump or cyst on top of the foot that isn’t causing any pain or stiffness does not require treatment, but if it becomes symptomatic, your doctor may decide to drain the fluid (aspiration) or surgically remove the cyst (excision).
Ganglion cyst lumps on top of the foot are most common between the ages of 20-40 and are more common in women than men. Digital mucous cysts are more common in people over the age of 50.
Another possible cause of a lump on top of the foot is gout.
A foot lump from gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid crystals in one of the joints, most typically the big toe.
If your big toe is swollen, red, painful and hot, chances are your foot bump is due to gout.
Gout is more common in men than women and has been linked with certain medical conditions (e.g. diabetes and high blood pressure), diet, obesity and genetics.
If your doctor suspects the lump on top of your foot is due to gout, they may order blood tests or take a sample of fluid from the lump to test for uric acid crystals.
Find out more about the causes, symptoms and how to treat a gout lump on top of your foot in the Foot Gout section.
A bump on top of the foot may be caused by a lipoma – a soft, fatty lump that grows under the skin. A top of foot bump caused by a lipoma is typically:
A lipoma lump on top of the foot is completely harmless and is not cancerous. In most cases a lipoma foot lump does not require treatment, although they can be surgically removed if they become particularly large.
A hard, painful lump on top of the foot can be due a break in one of the foot bones from a:
If you have a hard, painful lump on top of your foot that developed after an injury, or you are have recently taken up a new sport or increased your activity levels, your doctor should send you for an x-ray to check for fractures.
Treatment for a bone bump on top of the foot will depend on the type, severity and location of the foot fracture and may involve wearing a specially designed splint, boot or shoe to protect the foot and take pressure off the top of foot bump.
If you think the lump on top of your foot is from a fracture, check out the foot stress fractures section to find out more about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and best treatment options.
A hard lump on top of the foot around the big toe or little toe may be from a bunion, a common cause of toe deformity.
The classic presentation of a bunion is large bone bump on the top and side of the foot that is swollen, red and painful, and pushes the big toe inwards. A bunion lump on top of the foot at the big toe is known as Hallux Abducto Valgus, and at the little toe is known as a bunionette or tailors bunion.
A big toe lump on top of the foot from a bunion is usually caused by wearing tight, pointed shoes, particularly ones with high heels.
There are a number of treatment options for bunion bone lumps which are more effective the earlier they are treated, otherwise surgery may be necessary.
You can find out more about the causes, symptoms and treatment options in the Foot Bunions section.
There are a few other, less common possible causes of a lump on top of the foot:
Any lump on top of the foot should be checked out by your doctor so they can accurately diagnose the underlying problem and ensure you get the right treatment.
Treatment for a lump on top of your foot will depend on the underlying cause of the bump but will typically include:
In most cases, a lump on top of the foot is nothing to worry, but any new growth should always be reviewed by your doctor. Common causes include a bone spur on top of the foot or a ganglion cyst. If pain is more of a problem than the lump itself, check out the Pain On Top Of Foot article.
If you have lumps or bumps anywhere else on you foot, check out the Foot Lump & Bumps article for help working out what is going on or choose from the following articles:
In most cases a bump on top of the foot won’t cause any pain and therefore requires minimal treatment. However, if symptoms worsen then a combination of medication, orthotics, exercises and occasionally surgery can help.
Page Last Updated: 03/14/23
Next Review Due: 03/14/25
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