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Unmasking Cuboid Syndrome: The Hidden Foot Pain Among Athletes and Dancers

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Summary
Cuboid Syndrome Overview Cuboid syndrome is a condition that affects the foot, specifically the cuboid bone. It's common among athletes and dancers, causing pain on the lateral side of the foot.
Symptoms Symptoms include pain on the side of the little toe, difficulty walking, possible swelling, and reduced range of motion.
Causes Overuse, sprained ankle, pronated feet, and other activities like playing sports with rapid movements, climbing stairs, and wearing poorly fitting shoes can cause cuboid syndrome.
Treatment Treatment includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE therapy), foot manipulations, using a pad to stabilize the joints, taping the foot, wearing orthotics, taking anti-inflammatory medications, and deep-tissue massage.
Recovery Recovery time depends on the severity and cause of the injury. Most people begin to recover after the original injury is treated.

Cuboid syndrome is a condition that affects the foot, specifically the cuboid bone. It's common among athletes and dancers, causing pain on the lateral side of the foot. This condition can occur after a sudden injury or due to overuse of the foot joints. A 2011 study found that 4 percent of athletes who had foot injuries had problems with the cuboid area^1^.

"When cuboid syndrome is correctly identified and treated, most individuals make a full recovery."

Symptoms of cuboid syndrome include pain on the side of the little toe, difficulty walking, possible swelling, and reduced range of motion^2^. The pain can be dull and aching, or sharp and acute. It can worsen with weight-bearing activities and can be more severe when lifting the heel and pushing off the toe.

The most frequent causes of cuboid syndrome are overuse or injury. This explains why cuboid syndrome occurs most often in athletes and dancers^3^. Members of both groups have a tendency to work through pain, and are intensely active in high stress situations, which increases the risk of accidents.

"Overuse injuries tend to develop after frequent extended periods of intense activity, such as running."

The injury most likely to lead to cuboid syndrome is an inversion sprain of the ankle^4^. This happens when the ankle suddenly twists inward, although outward twists have also been known to cause the condition. A 2006 study found that as many as 40 percent of people with inversion ankle sprains might also have developed cuboid syndrome^5^.

Cuboid syndrome might also be more common in people with pronated feet, which means that their feet turn inward as they walk^6^. When a person’s calf muscles (peroneus longus) are particularly tight, they can tug the cuboid bone out of place when the foot is pronated.

Other activities that have been associated with this condition include playing a lot of sports with rapid, side-to-side movements, such as tennis and racquetball, climbing stairs, wearing poorly fitting shoes, or shoes without adequate support, training on uneven surfaces, and neglecting the need for rest and recovery after strenuous activity^7^.

Treating cuboid syndrome begins with rest, and reducing or eliminating activity that involves putting weight on the foot^8^. Home treatments include RICE therapy, which is an acronym for rest, ice, compression, and elevation^9^.

 

If the pain persists or worsens, individuals should see a doctor or physical therapist. A trained professional can perform certain foot manipulations to resolve cuboid syndrome^10^.

Additional treatments for cuboid syndrome include using a pad to stabilize the joints in the middle of the foot, taping the foot to help keep it stable, wearing orthotics to support proper alignment, taking anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and swelling, and deep-tissue massaging of calf muscles, which may be pulling on the cuboid bone^11^.

"Surgery is rarely recommended for this condition, and only when other treatment options have not brought relief."

The length of time it typically takes to recover from an episode of cuboid syndrome depends on many factors including how long the individual has had the injury, whether it was caused by an acute injury or developed over time, and if it developed as part of another injury, such as a sprained ankle^12^.

If the original injury was small, most people begin to recover after the original injury is treated. However, wearing the right footwear can significantly aid in recovery and prevent further injuries. Check out our collection of comfortable shoes for women and learn how to choose the right orthopedic shoes for optimal foot health.