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Dallas Podiatry Works

Pain in the Ball of Your Foot: Common Causes

There are many causes of foot pain, and one target area that we hear patients complain about often is discomfort in the ball of their foot.  This is where the toes join the rest of the foot and it is composed of muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones and nerves. Your forefoot endures a great amount of stress and impact, particularly if you are active in sports. This structure is used for balance, weight distribution, and pushing off during movement. Pain in this area can have several different causes, including weight gain, overuse in an activity, nerve damage, or even poor footwear. Two of the most common causes for pain in the ball of your foot are metatarsalgia and sesamoiditis. If you have forefoot pain, it may be one of these two injuries, and we have the treatments to get you back on your feet.

The Burning Pain of Metatarsalgia

Pain in the Ball of the FootMetatarsalgia is actually a group of symptoms that involve localized pain in the area behind your toes, and there can be many factors involved. Pain is felt where the metatarsal heads connect to your toes. Sharp, shooting and/or burning pain are telling signs that this area is under too much pressure. You may also feel tingling or numbness and a sensation as if you have a bruise in the bottom of your foot.

Wearing shoes with tight, narrow toe boxes is a common cause for added pressure on the metatarsals as well as being involved in a high-impact sport such as gymnastics, football, basketball, and soccer. Other causes include being overweight, bunions or hammertoes, having a high arched foot, and arthritis. It is common for symptoms to come on slowly over time and to dissipate during periods of rest. Even if the discomfort is minor and comes and goes, it is likely to get worse without treatment.

The Chronic Inflammation of Sesamoiditis

Sesamoiditis is a very common forefoot problem. It stems from irritation to the sesamoid bones, which are two pea-sized bones beneath the big toe joint in the ball of your foot. These two small but very important bones act like pulleys for the surrounding tendons, allowing the big toe to move normally. They also play a large role in the absorbing the weight put on the forefoot and big toe. An injury in this area can involve the bones themselves and/or the surrounding tendons and tissues. Frequent impact and stress through sports, wearing high-heeled shoes and having high arches are common contributors for this injury. Chronic, dull pain beneath the toe joint is the most common symptom for sesamoiditis.

Relieving the Pain

Should you be experiencing pain in the ball of your foot, the good news is that we can help. The cause determines the treatment, so our first step will be to determine the reason behind your discomfort. Relieving the pressure is usually the first goal, so you will need a period of rest, eliminating any activities that would cause further stress. Icing can help with inflammation and switching to more supportive shoes is often very helpful. Orthotic inserts can add extra cushioning and stabilization, and there is also the option for injectable fillers as a treatment for metatarsalgia. Taping and strapping the big toe joint to immobilize it may be necessary with sesamoiditis, as well as rest from activity while the bones heal, and icing for inflammation.

Foot injuries often take time and patience during the healing process, but with the right treatment at Dallas Podiatry Works, you will be back on your feet and feeling great. Don’t sit on foot pain—check it out as soon as it starts in order to ensure long-term foot health. Contact Dr. Joel W. Brook and David R. Northcutt at our office in Dallas, TX at (972) 566-7474 or in Plano, TX at (972) 943-3323. 


Dr. Joel W. Brook
Dr. Joel Brook is a board-certified podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon at Dallas Podiatry Works in TX.