Ball of foot pain is a broad term to describe generalized inflammation, pain, and swelling to the ball of your foot. There are numerous causes for metatarsalgia. Although not serious, metatarsalgia can hamper your daily routine and sometimes take weeks to resolve.
Ball-of-foot pain can be caused by numerous pathologies and issues, such as:
Overuse—Runners and active individuals have a higher prevalence of metatarsalgia because of the trauma the forefoot endures when striking the ground while running
Short Achilles tendon—Also known as equinus, if your Achilles tendon is chronically short, usually due to high heels or lack of stretching, this can place extra pressure on the ball of the foot and cause inflammation and pain
Excess weight—Places more pressure on the ball of foot
Certain foot deformities-People with high arches can put extra pressure on the ball of the foot.
Poorly-fitting shoes—Too narrow of shoes or shoes with lack of support can increase inflammation and pain to the forefoot.
Neuromas—Benign inflammation of the nerves in the forefoot can mimic metatarsalgia. Often the causes of metatarsalgia can cause neuromas.
Metatarsalgia sometimes is relieved with simple home remedies such as rest and other over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. If at-home remedies do not improve within 5-7 days, we recommend you come to our office for a more thorough treatment plan.
Most cases of metatarsalgia can be relieved by non-invasive treatments, such as:
Padding—Often padding and taping are the first steps in a treatment plan. Padding forefoot minimizes trauma to the area, thereby minimizing pain. This allows the patient to continue a normal, active life.
Shoe Gear Modification—Larger toe boxes and wider shoes can be used to accommodate the deformed toes. This will result in decreased pressure across the forefoot and relieve pain.
Custom-Molded Orthotic Devices—Custom-made shoe inserts produced by your podiatrist may be useful in controlling foot function. An orthotic device may reduce symptoms and prevent the worsening of forefoot pain.
Stretching and Physical Therapy—Stretching the calf muscles can reduce the amount of forefoot pressure, thereby decreasing trauma to the area.
Anti-Inflammatory Medication—Topical anti-inflammatory medication, oral anti-inflammatory medication (such as ibuprofen), and cortisone injections at the area of pain can decrease or resolve the pain associated with metatarsalgia.
Occasionally, the pain may be due to something more serious, such as a rupture of a joint capsule or a neuroma. In those cases, outpatient surgery may be performed to permanently correct those issues.