The medical term for the ball of foot pain is metatarsalgia. It’s an umbrella term for a manifestation that can have many causes. Those with metatarsalgia encounter pain and inflammation in the padding immediately below the toes. A place we put the most pressure on the metatarsal heads when standing and moving. The cause of increased pressure in this part of the foot can be for deformities of the foot or from pressure from sources outside the foot, such as footwear.
The pain is usually present in the metatarsal heads just under your toes or the big toe. Structural issues have to do with the metatarsal bone, and the most frequent in people with foot pain is a second metatarsal. Other abnormalities include abnormal joint alignment of the joint of the metatarsal with the toe (metacarpophalangeal joint). You may likewise experience shooting pain, numbness, and enhancing pain with flexing the toes.
Ball of foot pain is somewhat common and treatable in most situations, especially when the cause has been determined. At-home remedies such as ice and rest usually relieve symptoms. Wearing proper footwear with shock-absorbing insoles or arch supports might stop or reduce future problems with metatarsalgia.
What Causes Ball of Foot Pain?
As we age, we usually lose the fat pad underneath the ball of the foot, causing abnormal pressure and shock to the area. Individuals with abnormally high arches or people that are overweight may additionally experience ball of foot pain and toes. Ball of foot pain is most common in the runner.
In the foot, there are little toe nerves between the metatarsal bones. Once the head of one metatarsal bone presses against another, the tiny nerve between them becomes inflamed. This causes metatarsalgia. Putting weight on the foot will worsen symptoms, because with every step the metatarsal bones rub together, increasing the inflammation of the nerve.
Also, some specific conditions will cause a ball of foot pain. In Morton’s neuroma, affects the area of the third and fourth toe. A thickening of the tissues around the nerves leading to the toes can cause this. It causes symptoms almost like metatarsalgia and might conjointly contribute to metatarsal stress.
Certain foot abnormalities, arthritis, and ill-fitting shoes may cause this pain, as wearing high heels or any abnormal pressure to the ball of the foot. Different foot issues, such as hammertoes and bunion may cause incorrect pressure distribution. Having rheumatism, degenerative joint disease or gout may contribute to metatarsalgia.
Metatarsalgia also can be caused by sesamoiditis. Sesamoiditis is broken or inflamed pulley-like bones that are connected to tendons instead of other bones (like the kneecap). This condition is frequent in those with excessive physical movement, like ballet dancers or runners. At a glance, a person will develop a ball of foot pain for several factors:
- Intense physical activity
- Having a high arch or a second toe longer than the big toe
- Stress metatarsal fractures
- Wearing high heels or shoes those are too little
- Metatarsal joint pain or inflammatory disease
Freiberg’s malady also can be a cause. With this condition, a part of the metatarsal head loses structural integrity, resulting in a collapse within the head of the second metatarsal and nearby joint.
Ball of Foot Pain Symptoms
The main symptom of metatarsalgia could be pain within the metatarsal area underneath the ball of the foot. The pain will vary from mild to severe. Metatarsalgia might or might not be accompanied by bruising and swelling or inflammation.
Symptoms will come on quickly or develop over time. It’s sometimes more noticeable and unpleasant once the individual stands or moves. However, they often appear suddenly, particularly if an increase in exercise puts a strain on the feet, like running or jumping. Symptoms of metatarsalgia will include:
- Sharp, aching or burning pain within the ball of your foot — the part of the sole just behind your toes
- Pain that worsens after you stand, run, flex your feet or walk — particularly barefoot on a hard surface — and improves after you rest
- Ball of foot pain when walking
- Sharp or shooting pain, numbness, or tingling in your toes
- Ball of foot pain when running
- A feeling of getting a pebble in your shoe
- Pain could also be worse on flexing the toes.
If you’ve got any of those ongoing symptoms, see your doctor. Untreated metatarsalgia will cause hammertoes, which might cause you to limp and cause pain in other components of the body, including the lower back and hip after you compensate and start to walk abnormally.
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Ball of Foot Pain Diagnosis
Various foot issues will cause symptoms similar to those of metatarsalgia. Generally, metatarsalgia goes away on its own after a couple of days. If your pain persists for over two weeks, or if the pain is severe and accompanied by swelling or discoloration, make sure to see your doctor.
To find out pinpoint of the source of your pain, your physician can examine your foot where you stand and while you sit and ask you questions about your lifestyle, together with how long you have to be on your feet each day and what sort of shoes you generally wear.
Your physician may further order an X-ray to figure out whether you have a stress fracture. Like any foot issue, let your physician know if you have diabetes.
Ball of Foot Pain Treatment
The initial step in dealing with metatarsalgia is to figure out the cause of the pain. If improper-fitting footwear is the source of the pain, it must alter the footwear. Footwear constructed with a high, wide toe box and a rocker sole is excellent for dealing with the ball of foot pain relief. The high, wide toe box supports the foot to stretch out while the rocker sole diminishes stress on the ball-of-the-foot.
It can accomplish unloading pressure on the ball with a range of footrace products. Orthotics constructed to relieve ball-of-foot pain generally features a metatarsal pad/feet pain pad. They construct the orthotic with padding for ball of the foot placed behind the ball-of-the-foot to mitigate pressure and redistribute weight from the painful area to more tolerant areas.
Other products often prescribed include a ball of foot cushioning gel and metatarsal bandages. When you will use these products with proper footwear, you can experience significant relief.
Other Treatment Options
There are several treatments for the ball of foot pain. Your physician will probably recommend:
- Rest your foot and apply an ice pack for 20-minute interruptions, followed by 20 minutes off. The ice will help ease inflammation and lessen swelling.
- If you put on high heels, your physician will probably recommend that you alter your footwear. You’ll further want to make certain that your shoes fit perfectly. Tight shoes can lead to your feet not being aligned properly while you stand and walk, making improper balance.
- Depending on the severity, your physician may prescribe orthotic inserts or recommend commercial shoe inserts. Orthotic inserts can help align the foot and provide extra cushioning can relieve for pain in the ball of the foot. A pad under the ball of the foot can ease the pain.
- Excess weight can put extra pressure on the balls of your feet and reducing your weight can help mitigate this strain. Your physician can recommend management based on your lifestyle and any other health difficulties.
- Your physician may recommend picking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) or another form of painkiller. If your case of metatarsalgia is intense, the physician may further prescribe injectable steroids.
Certain conditions will compel additional treatment. If you have Freiberg’s disease, treatment comprises using stiff inserts to place under the metatarsal pad or rock-bottom shoes.
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Surgery for Ball of Foot Pain
If your metatarsalgia arises from a hammertoe, a pinched nerve, or a similar complication, an orthopedic surgeon or podiatrist may decide surgery to correct these conditions. However, the approaches above cure ball of foot pain in most instances.
If you have Morton’s neuroma, you’ll likewise use footpads. In extreme situations of this condition, your specialist may use injections or surgery on the affected area to alleviate nerve pain.
Ball of Foot Pain Exercises
To treat metatarsal pain, your doctor might prescribe exercises to help strengthen the bones and ease the discomfort. Always consult your physical therapist before doing any exercises for the ball of foot pain. Exercise strategies include:
We design towel lifting for ball of foot pain stretches and strengthen your metatarsals. Position a towel simply in front of your affected foot. Sit on a chair with your back straight up and your feet flat on the ground. Pick up the towel using your affected foot. To do this, squeeze the towel between your toes and therefore the ball of your foot. Hold the towel for eight seconds. Relax and repeat. Complete one set of 10 repetitions. Complete this exercise 3 times every day.
We design foot and ankle ups and downs to keep your foot moving and increase flexibility following pain in your metatarsals. To complete this exercise, position yourself on a couch along with your foot and ankle hanging some inches over the edge. Move your foot and ankle joint up and down. Complete one set of 15 repetitions on your affected foot.
Ins-and-outs facilitate working the range of motion of your foot and ankle joint. Complete this exercise sitting on the ground — along with your legs extended fully in front of you. Slowly move your foot as much inward as possible, and then slowly move your foot as far outward as possible. Complete one set of 15 repetitions for your affected foot.
Toe walking is a functional exercise that may facilitate increased strength in your toes and therefore the balls of your feet. Slowly stand up onto your toes and therefore the balls of your feet. Walk across the room for 15 seconds at a time. Complete one set of eight repetitions.