Feet take a pounding, and yours may develop problems because of the activities you do or even the shoes you wear. You may notice pain in the front of your foot, right behind where the toes attach. If you are an active person who spends time on your feet, chances are good that you have developed metatarsalgia, although there are several other possible causes for the soreness as well.
Why Does the Ball of My Foot Hurt?
It could be that a thick callus or blister has formed because of friction from your shoes, which puts pressure on the tissues and makes your foot uncomfortable. You could be wearing shoes that are too tight for your toes, leading to a painful pinched nerve at the base of your toes. Conditions such as arthritis or a torn ligament could also make this area hurt, and you can’t rule out stress fractures or broken bones, either.
That’s why it is important to come to our foot clinic for an evaluation. Dr. Andrew Irvine will examine you and find out if the pain in your forefoot is from one of these causes, or from damage to the metatarsal bones.
Metatarsalgia: Sore Bones and Tissues
When you put a lot of pressure on your feet, especially from running, it is easy to damage the metatarsals—the long bones between your toes and your ankle area. As you push off from each step, all of your body’s weight bears down on the front ends of these foot bones. If you have an uneven gait, a tight Achilles tendon, or a buildup of callus, your weight may land harder on some of the metatarsal heads than others, increasing the stress on them.
Your second toe is often the one most affected, followed by the third and fourth, and the bone tissue often becomes irritated and inflamed. This can lead to a sharp, burning pain in the front of your foot. This may develop suddenly after walking on a hard surface or build up slowly from wearing worn out shoes that don’t properly support your feet
How to Stop Metatarsalgia in Its Tracks
You can often prevent problems with forefoot pain simply by making wise footwear choices. You will want to look for shoes with a wide front and a slight dome shape pad on the insole where your foot bends. This extra padding will reduce the pressure on the metatarsal heads and provide extra shock absorption. If the shoes don’t have this, you can try one of the special pads available at a pharmacy or super store to cushion this area. A specialty running shoe store can also help you find the best shoe for your feet.
Simple Exercises to Prevent Metatarsalgia
The first two exercises build up the strength of your arches, to keep your feet from flattening too much when you stand or walk on them. Sit on a chair with your shoes and socks off. Start by picking up a marble with your big toe, hold 5 seconds, then release it; then work your way down one by one to the pinky toe. Switch feet and do the same with your other toes.
Then put a wash cloth or small towel on the floor and try to pull it toward you by curling up your toes and holding for 5 seconds.
The third exercise strengthens the plantar sling muscles at the sides of your calves that help hold up the arch. Sit down with your right side parallel to the front of a couch and loop an exercise band around the leg. Then put your right foot into the loop and hold it taut. Pull the foot toward the center of your body against the band 10 times. Then put your left foot in the loop and pull it away from the center 10 times. Now switch sides and pull your left foot in and right foot out against the band.
For metatarsalgia pain, come to Collingwood, Ontario’s health care provider for feet—Abbott Foot & Ankle Clinic. We will diagnose the source of pain in your feet and treat them right. Call (705) 444-9929 today for an appointment.