Ball of Foot Pain (Metatarsalgia)

Ball of Foot Pain

Much of the weight of your body is supported by the metatarsal bones in your foot. This area is located between the arch of the foot and the toes. When these bones become inflamed or irritated, it can cause mild to intense pain. This is known as metatarsalgia. Pain in this area can make it difficult to walk and function on a day to day basis.

What Causes of Ball of Foot Pain?

People who are active or participate in sports are susceptible to metatarsalgia, especially with activities that involve running and jumping. It is often associated with overuse. Pressure around the metatarsals can also cause ball of foot pain, which can happen from wearing constrictive footwear and high heels. Prior injuries to the foot ligaments and joints can also cause metatarsalgia. Being overweight is also a risk factor for all kinds of foot pain.

What are the Symptoms of Ball of Foot Pain?

Pain felt between the toes and the arch of your foot is an indication of metatarsalgia. The pain may get worse with activity or when flexing the foot, and improve once you rest. A number of patients may experience pain and numbness around the toes as well typically around the big toe and second toe. Some individuals feel as though they have a small rock in their shoe when walking.

What Can Be Done?

As with most joint pain, the first course of action is to abstain from activities that increase pain. Rest and limit the amount of time you are on your feet and walking. Avoid jumping or running.

Ice your foot with a cold compress for 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off; 2-3 times a day.

Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can be used to help reduce inflammation and stress.

Stretch and strengthen your achilles tendon and the muscles in and surrounding your foot.

Support your foot with the proper footwear and arch support. This may include purchasing new shoes and possible insoles and orthotics. Ankle braces that support the foot may also be used, such as the Aircast Airlift. It helps cushion the arch of your foot which may help in relieving ball of foot pain.

Typically, conservative at-home pain management steps like the ones above will alleviate metatarsalgia, but if these do not work your doctor may suggest surgical options. Always consult your physician for the best advice based on your medical need and history.


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