Metatarsalgia, or ball of foot pain, is a condition in which the ball of the foot becomes painful and inflamed. Often, people that participate in high impact activities, like running and jumping, are susceptible to metatarsalgia. However, ball of foot pain can happen in everyday activities. Predisposing factors include foot type and inappropriate shoe gear. Foot type refers to the structure of the foot causing an increase in pressure on the ball of the foot. Inappropriate shoe gear includes shoes that are too short, too narrow in the toe box, or not the correct type for the activity (i.e. flip flops for running).
Symptoms of metatarsalgia should not be ignored! Patients often present with sharp, shooting, or stabbing pain under one or more of the toes, at the ball of the foot. It’s important to have this ball of foot pain evaluated to determine the correct diagnosis. Ball of foot pain that is localized under one toe can be due to capsulitis, or even a ligament tear under that metatarsophalangeal joint. If the ball of foot pain is in between the digits, it can be something called a neuroma or nerve entrapment. If the pain is under the entire ball of the foot versus just one area, treatment is very different. Depending on the diagnosis, treatment can include:
- Offloading padding
- Sitting out of activity for a short period
- Possible surgical intervention
That is why it is paramount to come in for an evaluation, which may include x-rays, ultrasound, and sometimes an MRI for proper diagnosis. This will aid in swift treatment, to get you safely and efficiently back on your feet. So, don’t ignore that ball of foot pain! Stop in and see us soon!