Posted on: 19 May 2016Share
If you're experiencing pain in the ball of your foot, you'll know it can affect your gait and make walking uncomfortable. This type of pain can usually be successfully treated once the cause is identified. Here's an overview of four possible causes for your pain and common treatment approaches:
Erosion and inflammation of the joints around the ball of your foot can cause the muscles in your foot to tighten. This, in turn, can restrict blood flow to the ball of your foot and leave you in pain. If you are experiencing a flare-up of your rheumatoid arthritis that coincides with the onset of your foot pain, consult with your rheumatologist, as they may need to adjust your medication.
If you have diabetes and develop pain in the ball of your foot, you should be assessed for peripheral neuropathy, which is a common complication of diabetes. This condition causes a burning pain in your foot that occurs as a result of nerve damage. Additionally, diabetics with peripheral neuropathy are at an increased risk of developing foot ulcers, as the nerve damage can leave you unaware of small injuries, such as blisters.
Joint stress can occur as a result of a poor running technique or repetitive movement of your foot, such as when using a sewing machine or transcription pedal. It causes pain in the ball of your foot due to the joints swelling and losing flexibility. When the joints are tight and you try to use your foot, you may feel a sharp shooting pain along your foot.
Your foot arches can collapse for a number of reasons, including too much pressure on your feet due to weight gain and the release of the the pregnancy hormone relaxin, which causes your ligaments to soften. When the arches collapse, it's common to experience inflammation and muscle stiffness due to the loss of structure and support provided by the arches.
Pain in the ball of your foot can be treated by a podiatrist who will establish a plan of action once they've examined your feet and taken a detailed account of your symptoms. Common treatments include the following:
- Rest - The purpose of resting your feet as much as possible is to allow the swelling to come down. You don't need to stay off your feet altogether, but rest at regular intervals throughout the day and avoid high-impact exercise until your symptoms resolve. As the swelling comes down, circulation to the area will improve, and the oxygen and nutrients delivered to the surrounding tissue from your blood can improve muscle health.
- Medication - A short course of corticosteroids to reduce inflammation can be useful if your symptoms are severe. You can also be prescribed painkillers to enable you to continue with your daily activities, and if you want to use over-the-counter painkillers, you should get your doctor's approval before taking any.
- Exercises - Your podiatrist can show you how to do a series of gentle, targeted exercises that can improve the range of movement in your foot and resolve your foot pain by loosening and your muscles. You can minimise the risk of the pain returning by doing strengthening exercises regularly.
- Orthotics - Orthotic insoles are an effective way to take pressure off the ball of your foot and allow it to heal by changing the distribution of weight across your feet. They can also be used to treat collapsed arches by providing additional support to the surrounding joints and ligaments and lifting your arches. Your podiatrist will measure your feet once they have assessed how you walk, which will ensure your new insoles fit your feet perfectly.
Pain in the ball of your foot can occur gradually or suddenly and often worsens if left untreated. So, schedule an appointment with your podiatrist if you experience any type of foot pain.