Most people might see a bump on the side of their foot and think they have calluses or a bunion (which actually has a scientific name you might not have heard of – hallux valgus). But if you have a strange bump, it might be caused by something else.
Is the lump or bump on the side of your foot more than a bunion? Read on to learn about possible causes and potential remedies.
Note: If your bump is accompanied by serious symptoms, such as severe pain or a lack of range of motion, see your doctor.
Bumps On Feet
The bump on your foot could be caused by many different conditions. Some of them are familiar, such as bone spurs, gout, or arthritis. But it could also be caused by something you’ve probably never heard of, such as piezogenic papules or plantar fibromas.
Let’s take a look at some of the other potential reasons a bump on your foot may develop.
A ganglion cyst appears as a bump just blow the surface of the skin. This common issue can give your skin a lumpy appearance as a result. It can appear not only on your foot but also on your wrist, near your heel or Achilles tendon, and on other areas of the body. It’s a benign growth usually caused by the accumulation of fluid leaking from joints or tendons.
Now, the best way to get rid of a ganglion cyst is to have a doctor drain the fluid. However, there’s a good chance it will eventually return – even after draining through needle aspiration. If it does, though, remember, it’s harmless.1
There is another type of growth known as a cell tumor. While it’s benign, it’s more serious than a ganglion cyst because it can become very large. In fact, it can get so large that it needs to be surgically removed.2
A bone spur, or osteophyte, can lead to a painful lump on the side of the foot. Now, bone spurs are caused by an overgrowth of bone. This can be caused by:
- Previous injury
- Wear and tear on the joint
- An existing joint ailment (like arthritis)
- Wearing poorly fitted shoes
Your body creates more bone in an effort to help support the area – and the result may be a bone spur. Other potential causes include skin infection, age, and being overweight.
Symptoms of bone spurs include:
- Pain on the side of the foot or heel
- Ankle pain
- Redness and swelling
- Difficulty walking
Treatment options for the pain associated with bone spurs may include anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and rest. Surgery may be needed in extreme cases to remove the spur.3
Piezogenic is a term that means “pressure.” Papules are small, raised bumps on the skin that look like blisters. Researchers aren’t really sure what causes piezogenic papules to form.
This issue happens to women more than men, but it can affect anyone at any age. Risk factors include:
- A job that requires a lot of standing or walking
- Intense physical activity
- Having flat feet
- Being overweight
People with this condition may notice a single papule on the skin or several papules. They are usually small, but they can cause a significant amount of pain. Thankfully, though, piezogenic papules usually go away on their own.4
Many people suffer from arthritis, a condition that can be so severe it robs them of the ability to live a normal life. Everyday tasks may be painful. In addition to pain and swelling, arthritis may also cause stiffness and other uncomfortable symptoms.
If you have a bump on the side of your foot, it could be caused by rheumatoid arthritis. In severe instances, it can affect not only tendons and ligaments, but also your nerves and blood vessels.
The main cause of arthritis is not known. It could be genetics, but many scientists believe it is caused by some sort of trigger, such as something in the environment, or exposure to a chemical.5
A doctor may recommend the following treatment options for arthritis:
- Nonsurgical treatment, including ice and rest
- Custom orthotics, which help take pressure off the feet
- Cortisone injections
- Surgery (in severe cases)6
Plantar fibromas are nodules located near the foot’s arch, toward the heel. While a plantar fibroma is a form of tumor, it’s not life-threatening. This is not the same as plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation of arch tissue.
Scientists aren’t sure what causes a plantar fibroma to form, but most believe it is related to genetics in some way.
Symptoms of plantar fibromas include muscle pain in the foot, but not everyone experiences discomfort.7
If you have plantar fibromas, but you aren’t in any pain, you probably won’t need any medical help. But if you are experiencing pain, a doctor may recommend steroid medication. If that doesn’t work, surgery may be needed.8
If you’ve ever had gout, you know how much pain it can cause. Whether it affects your ankle joint, metatarsophalangeal joint (located between the toes), the side of your foot, or anywhere else, it can be very hard to walk or even stand.
Gout is a type of arthritis caused by an accumulation of uric acid. It typically affects the feet, but it can strike any joint. People who drink a lot of alcohol will typically be at high risk, but genetics may also play a role. Certain medications may also lead to gout.
Doctors will sometimes recommend treatment options such as anti-inflammatory medications to bring relief to gout patients. Steroid medications may also be used in more severe cases. Dietary changes and increasing physical activity could help people avoid further attacks.9
Why do Uric Acid Deposits Appear at Foot Joints?
The main culprit behind gout, uric acid, is a fluid created through the process of digestion. Uric acid passes through the kidneys. In someone with gout, however, high levels of uric acid also form crystals in the joints and surrounding tissues.
The reason that people have bumps associated with gout is that the uric acid crystals form large deposits. These are known as tophi, and they cause bumps to form under the skin.10
A plantar wart is caused by a virus known as human papillomavirus, or HPV. It’s usually found on the soles of the feet, but these warts can also develop on the sides of the feet and near the heel. Lesions and calluses usually form in the affected areas.
These warts usually go away on their own, but there are treatment options.
A small piece of moleskin placed on the skin of the affected area could help reduce pain. If a doctor agrees it will be safe, a pumice stone can be used in some instances to eliminate warts.11
Plantar warts are contagious, so patients with the condition need to talk to a doctor to determine the best way to keep from spreading them.
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Now, there are some instances where a bump on the side of the foot could be a sign of a major medical problem such as peripheral arterial disease, or PAD.
PAD occurs when blood doesn’t flow through your body as easily as it should, leading to potentially severe cardiovascular issues. This lack of circulation can sometimes lead to bumps on the foot and other areas of the body.12
When You Need to See a Doctor
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons that bumps can form on the side of your foot, or near other areas of your foot. Some of the reasons are harmless, but others can be serious.
If you’re simply annoyed about how the skin on your foot looks, you probably won’t need medical help. But don’t hesitate to see a doctor if you ever experience serious discomfort. Only your doctor can determine for sure what’s causing that bump!
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