A lot of the stress is channeled through your foot with each step you take, and much of this pressure ends up being displaced in the area between the arch of your foot and your toes. This area is where the metatarsal bones in your feet are positioned, and trauma, stress or irritation in this area can lead to pain in the ball of your foot. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the causes, symptoms and treatment options for pain conditions that affect the ball of your foot.
Causes and Symptoms of Ball of Foot Pain
Pain in the ball of your foot is most commonly attributed to overuse. As we mentioned above, a lot of weight is channeled through this area with each step you take, so if you’re a runner, you play sports or you’re simply on your feet all day at work, you’re going to feel it in your metatarsals. Aside from overuse, direct trauma and being overweight are some common causes and risk factors for developing pain or inflammation in this area. Oftentimes this leads to a condition called metatarsalgia.
Symptoms of metatarsalgia include:
Pain in the ball of your foot
Pain that worsens with activity
Symptoms that improve with rest
Numbness around the toes
The feeling that there’s a small rock underneath their shoe when walking
Pain in the ball of your foot that is caused by overuse or stress-induced inflammation is best treated with short-term rest and activity modifications. For example, give yourself a few days or weeks off from strenuous sporting activities like running or athletic competitions. If you’re still dead-set on getting your workout in, consider some workouts that don’t overstress your feet, like cycling or lap swimming.
Other helpful treatment methods include regularly icing the area for 10-15 minutes a couple times a day to help calm inflammation, taking anti-inflammatory medications, gentle stretching exercises to strengthen your Achilles tendon and other supportive muscles surrounding the area and shoe modifications.
When it comes to shoe modifications, really take a closer look at your shoes to see how they contributed to your injury. Are they an unsupportive shoe? Are you regularly wearing heels or shoes with limited arch support? Are they the right shoe for the job? Make sure the shoes you are wearing are up to the tasks they need to perform, and consider investing in a more supportive option or in an orthotic that contours to the shape of your feet. Odds are your shoe choice played a role in the onset of pain in the ball of your foot, so if you rest but continue to put your feet in these unsupportive shoes, nothing is going to change.