There are many ways your feet can tell you something is wrong. They can feel stiff, look different, or not work as well as they normally do, but the most common indicator of a problem is pain. When the discomfort is located in the ball of your foot – the area just behind your toes – the pain is called metatarsalgia. The word comes from the long bones (metatarsals) that hook up to your toe bones (phalanges) at the front of your foot.
Causes of Ball-of-the-Foot Pain
There are several reasons you may experience pain in this area. One is strenuous activity. Right away you might think of sports, and it is true that many cases of this condition are brought on by such activities. Repetitive trauma from running and jumping put a lot of stress on the bones, ligaments, tendons, and tissues of the foot. Irritation at the ends of the metatarsal bones during movement can cause them to become inflamed and bring on the pain.
You may also have a foot structure that makes you more prone to developing ball-of-the-foot pain. High arches, hammertoes, a tight Achilles tendon, toe muscles that are too tight or too weak, or an excessive pronation (side-to-side movement) in the ankle can all contribute to faulty movement patterns and put extra pressure on this area.
Another factor is something you may not have considered: ill-fitting shoes. High heels are a big culprit here, because they force all the weight of your body onto the balls of your feet where the metatarsals meet the toe bones. This force is amplified with movement, and the resulting pressure and irritation can again cause inflammation and discomfort. Any shoes that don’t allow your toes to lie flat and straight can alter their normal function and cause problems.
How Metatarsalgia Is Treated
You should consult the specialists at Country Foot Care as soon as you notice pain on the ball of your foot. Our doctors will evaluate your feet using state-of-the-art diagnostic technology to identify the exact cause of your foot pain. Based on their evaluation, the expert doctors at Country Foot Care will make a treatment plan for you that may include custom orthotics, physical therapy, R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) or anti-inflamatory medications. Shockwave therapy, a holisitic and non-invasive method of pain relief, is also an option when indicated and available in our offices. Many patients find reief using these conservative treatment. It is important to allow time for the problem to fully heal and resume normal activities gradually.
Preventing Pain in the Ball of Your Foot
Athletes can reduce their chances of developing metatarsalgia by not making changes in duration or intensity too quickly. Let your body adapt to a level before pushing on to the next one, and don’t play or practice through the pain. An adequate warm-up and passive stretching are key to getting your feet ready for the extra stress. If you don’t participate in athletics but still experience pain, check your shoe choices, watch your weight, eat a diet that promotes healthy bones, and warm-up and stretch before going for long walks. Include calf muscle stretches to loosen up your Achilles tendon, and don’t forget your toe muscles!
How to Find Help
If you believe you may be suffering from metatarsalgia or any other foot issue, your first action should be to make an appointment to be examined and evaluated by the caring and well-trained doctors at Country Foot Care. Appointments can be made online through this website by clicking on the MAKE AN APPOINTMENT button visible at the top of this page or by phone to either of our locations during regular office hours.