What Is Ball Of Foot Pain
The ball of the foot is the portion of the foot between your arch and toes, where bones called your metatarsals are located. As you walk, your weight is transferred from your heel to the ball of your foot, and if the weight is unevenly transferred to the metatarsals and over the ball of your foot, pain and swelling of the area can occur.
Pains associated with the ball of your foot can include:
- Sharp, burning, or aching pains
- Pain that worsens when you are on your feet and gets better with rest
- Sharp pain or unusual sensation in your toes
Frequently, painful calluses may also occur in the skin of that area.
How Is Ball Of Foot Pain Diagnosed
Sometimes pain in the ball of your foot goes away on its own after a few days. If your pain persists for more than a few days after resting and changing your footwear, or if the pain is severe and accompanied by swelling or discoloration, be sure to make an appointment with a doctor.
The doctor will examine your foot, both while youre standing and sitting, to look for what is causing pain in the ball of your foot. They may also want to see the way you walk. They will ask you questions about your lifestyle, including:
- how long you have to be on your feet each day
- what type of shoes you generally wear
- if youre involved in any new activity
The doctor may also order an X-ray to determine whether you have a stress fracture or muscle tear. As with any foot injury or health concern, let your doctor know if you have diabetes. Ball of foot pain may require more immediate attention for people with diabetes.
How Is Ball Of Foot Pain Treated
There are many home remedies for ball of foot pain. If your symptoms arent caused by a larger health condition, such as Freibergs disease or diabetes, your doctor will probably recommend some or all of the following. You could experience relief in a matter of days.
Rest your foot when you can, especially after periods of activity. Use an ice pack for 20-minute intervals every 2 to 3 hours. The ice may help alleviate inflammation and reduce swelling.
Wear comfortable shoes. If you wear high heels, your doctor will probably recommend that you change your footwear. Youll also want to make sure that your shoes fit properly. Tight shoes can cause your feet to misalign while you stand and walk, creating improper balance.
Exercise. While you may not want to participate in running or certain high impact sports during this time, targeted stretches might ease pain and increase flexibility and strength. You may want to practice your stretches a few times a day until you feel pain relief.
Use orthotic inserts. Depending on the level of severity, your doctor may prescribe orthotic inserts or recommend commercial shoe inserts. Orthotic inserts are made to help align the foot and provide extra cushioning. A pad under the ball of the foot may ease pain as well.
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What Is A Foot Fracture
With 26 bones in a single foot, almost any of them can be broken. Many fractures do not require surgery, or even a cast, as they will heal on their own with some support. When a foot is fractured, the site of the fracture usually is painful and swollen. The site of the fracture will determine the course of treatment, if needed, including:
Ankle joint fractures. These fractures may be serious and require immediate medical attention. Ankle fractures usually require a cast, and some may require surgery if the bones are too separated or misaligned.
Metatarsal bone fractures. Fractures of the metatarsal bones, located in the middle of the foot, often do not require a cast. A stiff-soled shoe may be all that is needed for support as the foot heals. Sometimes, surgery is needed to correct misaligned bones or fractured segments.
Sesamoid bone fractures. The sesamoid bones are 2 small, round bones at the end of the metatarsal bone of the big toe. Usually, padded soles can help relieve pain. However, sometimes, the sesamoid bone may have to be surgically removed.
Toe fractures. Fractures of the toes normally can heal with or without a cast.
Some Of The Symptoms And Possible Causes Of Pain In The Bottom Of The Foot
|Symptoms Pain, swelling, bruising, started after intense or repetitive exercise||Possible cause sprained foot|
|Symptoms Sharp, burning or shooting pain near your toes , feels like a lump or small stone under your foot||Possible cause Morton’s neuroma|
|Symptoms Sharp pain between your arch and heel, feels worse when you start walking and better when resting, difficulty raising your toes off the floor||Possible cause plantar fasciitis|
|Symptoms No gap under your foot when you stand up, your foot presses flat on the floor||Possible cause flat feet|
Do not worry if you’re not sure what the problem is.
Follow the advice on this page and see your GP if the pain does not get better in 2 weeks.
Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE
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What Tests Will I Need For A Doctor To Diagnose Mortons Neuroma
Most of the time, your provider can diagnosis Mortons neuroma based on your symptoms and a physical exam. An X-ray wont show a neuroma. But it can help rule out other conditions that cause foot pain, such as a stress fracture or arthritis. You may also need an ultrasound or MRI to confirm the diagnosis.
Sometimes, your provider may recommend an electromyography procedure. This test measures the electrical activity of your nerves and muscles. It can rule out nerve conditions that can cause symptoms like those of Mortons neuroma.
What About General Ankle Or Foot Pain
If you have diabetes, high blood sugar levels can lead to nerve damage. This is known as diabetic neuropathy, and often affects the nerves in the feet and legs first.
Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy in the feet can include decreased sensitivity to temperature and pain. But it can also be signaled by increased sensitivity, including tingling, burning or sharp pain.
Once nerve damage has happened, it cant be reversed. But careful management of blood sugar levels can prevent more from happening. Paying special attention to your feet is important as well, since any numbness resulting from nerve damage may make it harder to tell when your feet are injured or infected. One example of this are foot ulcers, which can be common for those with diabetic neuropathy.
A podiatrist can provide specialty foot and ankle care for diabetic neuropathy. They can also coordinate care with your primary care doctor whos helping manage your diabetes and overall health care.
Sprains or fractures
If youre experiencing pain following a sudden injury, a sprain or fracture of the foot and ankle may be the culprit. A sprain is a stretching or tearing of the ligaments that connect bones, and a fracture is a break in a bone.
More severe sprains or fractures come with higher levels of pain, swelling and bruising. You may be able to move a sprained foot or ankle more than a broken one.
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What Else Causes Pain In The Ball Of The Foot
Metatarsalgia can have countless causes. Rather than listing every possible cause, we wanted to highlight those conditions that have a realistic chance of mimicking or causing ball of foot pain. Some of these conditions can be distinguished from metatarsalgia, and some coincide with this type of inflammation. Feet and extremities are less sensitive than other parts of the body, so pain and sensation can be more difficult to interpret. Before assuming that your foot pain is metatarsalgia, here are some other possible causes that you or your doctor may need to rule out.
- Achilles tendinitis
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Abnormally high or low foot arch
- Pagets disease of bone
- Peripheral neuropathy
What Is The Outlook For People With Mortons Neuroma
Treatment is effective and can help you get back to living pain-free. Research has shown that a combination of treatments may give the best result:
- Wearing roomy shoes.
- Getting cortisone injections.
About 80% of people with Mortons neuroma are successful using this combination approach.
Surgery is also an effective treatment for Mortons neuroma. About 75% to 85% of people who have surgery find relief from their symptoms.
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What Is An Ankle Sprain
An ankle sprain is an injury to the foot’s ligaments in the ankle. Ligaments are tough bands of elastic tissue that connect bones to each other. Ankle sprains may occur if the ankle rolls, turns, or twists beyond its normal range of motion. Ankle sprains may be caused by awkward foot placement, irregular surfaces, weak muscles, loose ligaments, or wearing shoes with spiked heels. The symptoms of a sprain will depend on how severely the ligaments are stretched or torn, but usually include swelling, pain, or bruising. Treatment will depend on the severity of the sprain, but may include:
Resting the ankle
Wrapping the ankle with elastic bandage or tape
Ice pack application
Elevating the ankle
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen to help reduce the pain and inflammation
Gradual return to walking and exercise
Ligaments are fibrous, elastic bands of tissue that connect and stabilize the bones. An ankle sprain is a common, painful injury that occurs when one or more of the ankle ligaments is stretched beyond the normal range of motion. Sprains can occur as a result of sudden twisting, turning or rolling movements.
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Why Does The Ball Of My Foot Hurt
Mortons neuroma is a thickening of one of the nerves that runs between your toes. It can result from your toes being frequently squeezed together for too long.
Mortons neuroma can cause a burning sensation or sharp pain in the ball of your foot, and discomfort or numbness in your toes. When you put weight on your foot, it may feel like theres a small object underneath it.
Avoiding tight, high-heeled or pointed shoes is usually the first treatment step. In addition, anti-inflammatory medications and using ice can help bring down swelling. You should also give your feet plenty of rest to reduce pressure.
A podiatrist can officially diagnose whether youre experiencing this condition or something else. So, if youre regularly feeling that burning, shooting pain or numbness in your toes or ball of your foot, make an appointment.
Metatarsalgia is an inflammation in the ball of your foot that usually develops gradually. This condition can be especially common for those who participate in intense or high-impact sports or activities that require running or jumping.
For many, the pain usually worsens when barefoot or during activity, and eases when theyre at rest. You may feel burning, aching or sharp pain in the bottom of your foot, and this may be paired with sharp pain, tingling or numbness in your toes.
Again, a podiatrist can provide an official diagnosis and recommend treatments tailored to your specific symptoms.
When To Contact Your Gp
Contact your GP if:
- the pain is severe or stopping you from doing normal activities
- the pain is getting worse or keeps coming back
- the pain has not improved after treating it at home for 2 weeks
- you have any tingling or loss of sensation in your foot
- you have diabetes foot problems can be more serious if you have diabetes
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What Causes The Pain In The Ball Of The Foot
This pain is generally the result of excessive walking and running. Metatarsalgia is an overuse injury, and the condition is often due to abnormal weight distribution, persistent pressure on the area, and other musculoskeletal stressors. All causes result in excessive, localized pressure on the forefoot, which creates the pain in the ball of the foot.
Many conditions and habits can lead to ball of foot pain, including high levels of activity, prominent metatarsal heads, weak toe flexor muscles, tight toe muscles, a tight Achilles tendon, ill-fitting footwear, and excessive pronation, which is the side-to-side movement of the foot when walking or running.
However, experiencing pain in the ball of the foot is not always the result of physical activity. Sometimes, inherited anatomical conditions may predispose people to metatarsalgia. This may include having a high arch, a Hammertoe deformity, a short first metatarsal bone, or a long second metatarsal bone. Any of these conditions can affect weight distribution across the foot.
This pressure and weight distribution causes inflammation, which in turn causes the foot pain. Blood vessels in the ball of the foot dilate, and blood flow increases to allow white blood cells to swarm the injured area. In some cases, the forefoot will become red or swollen.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
If you have Mortons neuroma, ask your provider:
- Can I treat this at home?
- Will I need surgery?
- What shoes will help my foot feel better?
- Will the neuroma come back?
- What medications can help?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Mortons neuroma is a treatable foot condition. Symptoms of Mortons neuroma include pain in your toes. You may also feel like your socks have bunched up or that theres a pebble under your foot. If you have pain, tingling or other uncomfortable foot symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider. Mortons neuroma treatment includes steps you can take at home to relieve symptoms, such as rest and using shoe pads. Other treatments include medications, injections and, in severe cases, surgery. Treatment is often successful in returning you to your active life, pain-free.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/04/2020.
What Are The Symptoms Of Metatarsalgia
The main symptom of metatarsalgia is pain in the metatarsal area under the ball of the foot. Metatarsalgia may or may not be accompanied by bruising and swelling or inflammation. Symptoms can come on quickly or develop over time. They include:
- Pain in the ball of the foot: this can be sharp, aching or burning. The pain may get worse when you stand, run or walk.
- Numbness or tingling in your toes
- The feeling of a pebble in your shoe
If you have any of these ongoing symptoms, you should see your doctor. Untreated metatarsalgia can lead to hammertoes, can cause you to limp and cause pain in other parts of the body, including the lower back and hip when you compensate and begin to walk abnormally.
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What To Do When Stubborn Pain Just Wont Go Away
If persistent ball of foot pain is making life difficult, especially if symptoms reoccur frequently or have lasted for a few days without improvement, give the experts at Family Foot and Ankle Center a call.
Our first step will be evaluating the foot to determine the cause of your pain. A digital X-ray or other imaging scan can quickly reveal whether a problem such as Mortons neuroma, stress fractures, or a sesamoid injury are to blame.
Ultimately, the cause will dictate the treatment method. The vast majority of ball of foot pain cases, however, are solved via conservative measures. In many cases, simply a little bit of rest and ice combined with a switch to better, more supportive shoes designed to fit your foot type are all you need.
If youre still struggling with painful symptoms even while wearing good shoes, you may benefit from metatarsal pads, arch supports, shock-absorbing insoles, or a custom orthotic to redistribute the weight across your foot. Well take measurements and help you find out which kind of insert would be most helpful.
In rare cases surgery may be the best course of action, but only in certain cases and after conservative options have been exhausted.
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Beating Ball Of Foot Pain
Although heel pain is probably the most common complaint we hear from patients needing help with aching feet, its far from the only spot on the sole that causes problems. Another common foot problem is ball of foot pain, also known as metatarsalgia. Although it sounds like a specific condition, its really just a catch-all term for painful symptoms localized just behind the bases of your toesthe word simply means metatarsal pain.
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