Ball of Foot Pain

Ball of foot pain, also known as metatarsalgia, is a common symptom experienced by individuals of all ages and activity levels. And just like heel pain, metatarsalgia can be caused by a wide variety of different conditions and injuries, and spring from a wide variety of different causes.

But don’t let that discourage you! While the best treatment approach to ball of foot pain will depend on the specific circumstances surrounding your condition, the team at Rainier Foot & Ankle Associates can provide a quick, accurate diagnosis and efficient treatment remedies. Thankfully, surgery is usually not necessary.

Why Do I Have Ball of Foot Pain?

Some conditions and circumstances that tend to be closely linked with metatarsalgia include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Morton’s neuroma. This is a mass of thickened tissue located near a nerve, typically the one between your third and fourth (sometimes second and third) toes. Putting pressure on the neuroma causes it to press painfully on the nerve. It may feel like you’re standing on a pebble or a fold in your sock.
  • Stress fractures. The metatarsal bones, which are located in the balls of the feet, can develop hairline cracks called stress fractures if placed under repetitive stresses. 
  • Capsulitis. This is damage to the ligament “capsule” that surrounds the joint between a metatarsal bone and a toe bone. Usually this affects the second toe. If not treated, capsulitis can cause the entire toe to become misaligned.
  • Sesamoiditis. Near the base of each great toe, two tiny bones called sesamoids act as “pulleys” that help you push off when you walk or run. If the sesamoids are inflamed or injured, you may experience ball of foot pain, as well as difficulty bending or straightening your toe.

Other potential diagnoses include bruises, sprains, arthritis, pinched nerves, plantar plate tears, and more.

Underlying and Contributing Factors

Of course, diagnosing the specific condition is only one part of the puzzle. In order to help you recover, we also need to understand the underlying factors that contributed to it, such as:

  • Wearing shoes that are too tight, too short, or don’t provide sufficient arch support
  • Occupations that keep you on your feet all day
  • Hobbies that put a lot of stress on your feet
  • Foot shapes that naturally put extra pressure on the ball of the foot, such as high arches
  • Obesity

Treating Ball of Foot Pain

Treating Ball of Foot Pain

Once we know the cause and the condition, we can get to work putting together a personalized treatment plan designed to meet your specific needs.

Fortunately, most conditions that cause metatarsalgia can typically be treated conservatively, through a combination of rest and addressing the root causes—wearing better shoes, modifying your workstation, changing your workout routine, etc.

We can further provide a variety of additional treatments when necessary, ranging from metatarsal pads to reduce pressure on the balls of the feet, to custom orthotics to accommodate any structural foot flaws, to MLS laser therapy to provide accelerated pain relief and reduction of inflammation.

Surgery might be recommended for a few severe cases, such as a Morton’s neuroma that isn’t responding to conservative measures or a toe that’s drifted out of place due to capsulitis. But as we mentioned above, surgery is usually not required—especially if you seek our help early after developing symptoms.

Don’t let chronic ball of foot pain stop you from doing the things you love! Conservative treatments are typically highly effective, but you need to take the first step by getting the correct diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan. You can reach us at (360) 761-1285, or by completing our online contact form.