Pain in the ball of one’s foot is very common and can be caused by many things. The foot is a very complex structure, and the ball of the foot has many joints, bones, muscles, tendons and vessels all in a very small area!
Pain in this area is often labelled one common term: Metatarsalgia.
Metatarsalgia is often given as a diagnosis, when in fact it is a symptom – pain in the region. Listed below are some of the common causes of metatarsalgia, which all have different treatment strategies.
Morton’s Neuroma: This is a non-cancerous overgrowth of fibrous tissue that surrounds the nerve that goes to your toes. This can be caused by tight footwear, high heels, foot structure, being overweight and genetic factors. It can cause pain, tingling and numbness. Neuromas can be treated and managed by: footwear changes(wearing wider shoes), orthotics, footwear modifications, corticosteroid injections, and surgery (amongst others)
Bursitis: Bursas are present all over the body and act to reduce friction between tendons and bones. These can become inflamed and cause pain. Bursitis in the ball of the foot can be treated by: Orthotics, padding and strapping of the foot, corticosteriod injections, anti-inflammatory creams/tablets.
Arthritis: Arthritis affects the joints and can cause pain and stiffness. Treatment for arthritic pain includes: Padding of the foot, orthotics, calcium and vitamin D supplements, panadol
Plantar Plate Tear: This is a tear in the ligament that crosses your toe joint. This can cause pain and clawing of the digits. This can be treated by taping of the toe, reduction in activity, ice and footwear modifications
These are some of the most common causes. This is why it’s important to have the pain assessed by a podiatrist so that we can target the cause of the pain specifically and achieve the best outcome.