The location on your foot where the three middle toes intersect with the middle of the foot (the “ball” of your foot) absorbs a huge amount of force whenever you walk or exercise which is why you are more likely to suffer an injury to this area, especially during high impact sporting activities. The pain and discomfort caused by an injury to the ball of your foot is called metatarsalgia.
The development of metatarsalgia may be exacerbated by the following problems or conditions:
- Stress fractures—Your podiatrist should do imaging studies to detect hairline fractures in your toes or other bones that may be adding to your foot ball pain.
- Poorly fitted shoes—Don’t wear shoes with a narrow toe box, and avoid athletic shoes that are worn out or that have lost good cushioning and support.
- Obesity—The ball of your foot absorbs a lot of weight when you walk, so losing excess pounds can relieve some of this stress.
- Morton’s neuroma—is a growth of fibrous tissue that most often happens between the third and fourth toes, causing swelling, pain and discomfort.
- Inherited foot shape—Inherited foot shapes, such as having flat feet, or having a second toe that is longer than your great toe can shift your weight and cause pain in the ball of your foot.
- Rigorous training and aggressive play. Players of high impact sports such as tennis, soccer, and basketball are more likely to suffer this injury.
- Other problems such as hammertoes and bunions may also affect the metatarsal bones.
- Arthritis or gout—can be contributing factors to metatarsalgia.
Treatment for metatarsalgia will involve resting the affected foot, and wearing shoes with specially designed inserts or pads that help isolate the region and greatly decrease pain and discomfort.
At Your Next Step, our team of board-certified podiatrists have access to advanced technologies, along with years of experience, to help diagnose and treat a variety of foot and ankle problems, including sports injuries, joint pain, toe deformities, nail fungus, chronic tendon pain, and skin problems. Dr. Eric Ricefield, Dr. Mark Yagodich and Dr. Aliza V. Eisen provide high quality foot and ankle care to patients in the greater Philadelphia area at our offices conveniently located in Ardmore, Paoli, and Downingtown. Please contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.