What is the ball of foot and what does it do?
The ball of foot is that large padded area on the forefront of your foot. It’s main function is to provide help in distributing and handling the weight and pressure of the body on the foot.
What causes the condition?
Ball of foot pain usually occurs when there is an improper weight distribution on the bones behind the toes. This can occur if your toes are crooked, your heel cord is too tight or a genetic foot shape more conducive to the pain. However, the most common cause is walking improperly. Your foot is designed to roll through the big toe as you take the next step. However, when your big toe has a restricted range of motion, you will naturally adapt to walking incorrectly by not using your big toe while walking. When this happens, more weight will be distributed to the bones behind the smaller toes causing a greater pressure in the smaller bones. These bones were not designed to handle such pressure and weight, which causes that ball of foot pain. Swelling will occur to the joints and the surrounding soft tissues, including the nerves. Then, pain and occasionally, numbness occur.
What can I do?
- Soak your feet in lukewarm water with Epsom salts
- After the salt soak, ice the foot 15-20 minutes 2-3 times a day. Wear a sock before applying the ice pack so that you don’t get hurt from applying such a cold pack directly to your skin. A large gel pack, which are available at grocery stores and big box stores, would work best.
- Use of over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen can be helpful on a short-term basis. It is best to check with your doctor before taking these medications.
- Avoid high impact activities, such as jumping, until the pain lessens.
- Use topical muscle rubs 3-4 times a day, if needed.
If you need further evaluation and treatment for your condition we recommend a provider from the following organizations: