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Ball of Foot Pain
Ball of foot pain is a common foot disorder that can affect the bones and joints at the ball of the foot. Metatarsalgia (ball-of-foot-pain) is often located under the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th metatarsal heads, or more isolated at the first metatarsal head (near the big toe). Common causes of metatarsal imbalances include bone abnormalities from genetic predisposition, disease (like arthritis), or injuries.
A lot of people who are physically active suffer from this condition. Ball of foot pain can be caused by the high impact of the foot which is a product of running, jumping etc. Sometimes, the condition can be caused by badly fitting footwear or even an underlying medical condition.
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To start finding out, take a closer look at where you feel pain in your foot.
Ball of Foot Pain affects these regions of the metatarsal region of your foot:
A- Ball of foot
B- Arch & Midfoot
WHAT CAUSES Ball of Foot Pain?
To understand the cause of your ball of foot pain, it helps to understand more about the metatarsal region of your foot. Touch the top of any one of your toes and trace the bone down to the center of your foot. Once past your toe bone (or “phalange”), your fingers will eventually trace a bone called your metatarsal. Attached to your toe bones, these five metatarsal bones help you stand, walk, and run by distributing your weight evenly to keep you balanced.
When your metatarsal bones are injured, inflamed, or abnormal, you might feel intense pain in the ball of your foot. COMMON CAUSES OF METATARSAL IMBALANCES INCLUDE:
- Bone abnormalities from genetic predisposition, disease (like arthritis), or injuries. One common abnormality is an overly long metatarsal bone.
- A thinning out or shifting of your foot pad’s fatty tissue. That fatty tissue on the ball of your foot is there to absorb shock, but it can wear out as you get older.
- A high arch or flat feet, either of which places abnormal pressure across your metatarsals.
- Hammertoes, which affects how weight is distributed across your foot.
Identifying ball of foot pain may be difficult since it does not always hurt in a single localized spot. If you feel pain in the ball of your foot, first see if it has these general characteristics:
- Is the pain sharp and shooting, or dull, aching, and burning? Ball of foot pain can range between these two extremes.
- Is the pain localized to one area of your foot, or widespread across your entire foot? While ball of foot pain commonly hurts near the inside of your foot between your first and second toe bones, the pain can also spread to your entire foot.
- Do you feel localized or radiated pain up your leg and down to your toes?
- Do any of your metatarsal bones feel or appear inflamed?
- Do you feel more pain as you put weight on your foot?
- Do you feel more pain when you walk barefoot?
- Does it feel like you’re walking on a pebble?
- Do you feel more pain when you stand on your toes?
- Do you feel more pain when running or jumping?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you show some key symptoms of having the ball of foot pain. Continue taking the next quiz:
- Diabetes can cause a condition called diabetic neuropathy, which is a nerve-related pain in the foot.
- Arthritis and other joint diseases may affect your metatarsal joints.
- Severe calluses and skin lesions can press upon your metatarsals.
- Injury to your metatarsal bones, such as a stress fracture, worsens ball of foot pain.
- Neuromas, which are enlarged nerves, may affect your metatarsal area.
- Obesity may apply too much pressure onto your feet.
Are there any serious concerns with the ball of foot pain?
Also, beware of various daily activities and shoe choices that make your ball of foot pain worse. Do any of the following apply to you?
- Playing intense sports, especially sports that significantly work the balls of your feet such as jogging.
- Wearing ill-fitting shoes, such as shoes with small toe boxes that cramp your toes.
How do I treat and prevent ball of foot pain?
Since surgery will seriously affect your feet for up to 6-12 months, you may first want to treat your ball of foot pain with the following non-surgical methods.
- Stretch your Achilles tendon and strengthen your foot muscles. These exercises help decrease the pressure on your forefeet.
- Use metatarsal supports such as
- Properly fitting, supportive footwear such as sneakers.
- Arch supports
- Metatarsal pads
- Shock absorbing shoe insoles and inserts
- Lessen any strenuous activities that involve placing too much weight on your feet, such as jogging or jumping.
- Use icing or cold therapy.
- Use anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
- Avoid shoes with high heels
What if non-surgical treatments do not work?
If non-surgical treatments do not work and your ball of foot pain continues to grow more severe, then you may want to consider surgery. For example, surgery may be the only way to correct a bone abnormality such as lengthening a metatarsal bone.
In extreme cases, the ball of foot pain might require an exostectomy (cutting and removing a portion of the bone). You should talk to your podiatrist and receive a complete foot examination before considering surgery.
Orange County Foot and Ankle Center under the supervision of Dr. Matt Ahmadi offers one of the best foot and ankle care services in Mission Viejo, California. Our goal is to keep your feet as healthy and functional as possible by providing you with the best treatment available. Our state-of-the-art services include bunion removal, orthotics, treatment for sports injuries, ingrown nails, foot corns, heel pain, flat feet, hammertoes and much more.
Dr. Ahmadi performs the latest techniques and procedures available today in the foot care industry. He treats any foot problems in children and adults. If you are experiencing Ball of Foot Pain, call Dr. Ahmadi now at (949) 276-8900 for quality orthotics and foot pain relief. You can reach us anytime, seven days a week.