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Dorsal Compression Syndrome: A Patient's Guide

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Are you experiencing pain along the top of your foot that seems most pronounced to the outside of your foot, along the side? Chances are, you're dealing with a condition known as dorsal compression syndrome. Though it's most common in athletes like runners and soccer players, it can also appear in those who spend many hours a day on their feet. Here's a closer look.

What is dorsal compression syndrome, and what causes it?

The term "dorsal" refers to the top or back surface of something -- in this case your foot. Dorsal compression syndrome is when the bones that comprise the top of your foot, known as your metatarsal bones, and up squeezed together. In other words, they get pushed together and put pressure on one another, which is what causes the pain you're experiencing.

Dorsal compression syndrome occurs as a result of sunken arches. As the arch of your foot moves down, the metatarsal bones lose their support and "fall" downward, which causes them to also draw together.

There are a number of reasons the arch of the foot may fall, one of which is genetics. However, this usually happens when you workout or spend all day on your feet in shoes that don't have enough arch support. Note that this is not something that happens overnight. Rather, weeks or months of wearing improper footwear can lead to dorsal compression syndrome.

What can you do about the condition?

If your condition is mild and you're just beginning to notice symptoms, you may be able to turn it around with some at-home care. Switch to shoes that offer more arch support. Then, start massaging your feet once a day. This will increase circulation to the area to help alleviate stiffness and soreness. Back off on physical activity for a few weeks until the pain subsides.

If you don't notice an improvement in symptoms within a week or two, it's time to see the podiatrist, like Hartford Podiatry Group. He or she may recommend a special splint you can wear inside your shoes to support your arches and help ease your metatarsal bones back into their proper positions. You may also need cortisone injections to reduce inflammation in the ligaments between the metatarsal bones.

Compression syndrome is almost always treatable, so don't worry too much! Once you're healed, make sure you always wear shoes with plenty of support so you don't develop this painful condition again.