If the classic film “The Usual Suspects” taught us anything, it’s not to trust what we think we know. Sometimes the usual suspects aren’t actually causing the problem at all. You might chalk up your ball of foot pain to one thing when it’s really something else. If you have pain in the ball of your foot it’s a good idea to get a physical exam done so you can find out what’s really causing the problem.
Ball of foot pain, or metatarsalgia, is usually found in athletes or people who are physically active, although nobody is really immune. It’s typically the result of overuse or constant pressure being put on your feet. It can also be attributed to wearing poorly fitting shoes. One usual suspect is Morton’s neuroma. If you feel pain, tingling, or the feeling of standing on a rock in your shoe this could be the problem. Another common culprit is sesamoiditis. This is when the tendons around the big toe become inflamed. Both of these can be treated with rest, ice, a change in footwear, and the addition of an orthotic device in your shoes.
One less commonly known reason for ball of foot pain is Freiberg’s disease. It’s important to rule this out because it can become worse if left untreated. Freiberg’s disease is when the metatarsal heads actually flatten out. It’s most common in teenagers, but can occur in adults as well. It’s still not completely understood what causes this to occur, but traumatic injury is one contributing factor. This can be a very painful problem to have; it can even make walking difficult. Treatment usually starts conservatively with a change to your footwear. Some people find they also benefit from an orthosis in their shoes. You will also be required to rest your feet, which means limiting your physical activity. If your condition is more serious you may be required to have a special cast put on your foot to completely limit mobility. In extremely rare cases surgery may be necessary.
If you have questions regarding ball of foot pain or are experiencing this type of pain call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel at (978) 794-8406 to make an appointment with us in one of our three Massachusetts offices.