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Causes and Treatments for Pain in the Ball of the Foot

Numerous individuals suffer with ball of the foot pain known as metatarsalgia which gets its medical name from the metatarsals or the long bones in the foot. These bones help to support the weight of individuals during daily activities such as walking or running.

The level of pain one feels varies depending upon the cause and can range from very mild to extremely intense complaints of pain. There are a various number of causes for this type of pain such as decreased circulation, arthritis, nerves that have become pinched, poor posture, and several disorders.

Most commonly, however, the cause is nerve damage or an abnormality in the joints closest to the ball of the foot. Many times it is found that one disorder may cause the development of a second disorder which heightens the level of pain being experienced. The majority of these causes require the attention of a physician in order to obtain some sort of relief.

• One of the common causes may be Freiberg's disease which is the death of tissue to various parts of the bone in the ball of the foot.

This necrosis or tissue death usually occurs in the digit located next to the great toe and stems from repeated stresses. The joint may become stiff and even swollen with pain worsening upon bearing weight for extended periods of time or with the repeated use of the foot for pushing off to stand or begin walking. One should avoid wearing improper foot wear such as high heeled shoes.

Most people seek treatment by a physician who may begin administering corticosteroids for pain relief. It may also be necessary to place a splint or cast in order to immobilize the foot thus decreasing irritation to the affected area.

Shoes with low heels and inserts for shoes will help in relieving some of the pressure on the foot.

• Many times the development of benign nerve growths may occur and cause the balls of the feet to become very painful. This will present with symptoms of a mild ache to the third and fourth toes and may also cause a burning and tingling sensation. Physicians generally inject the area with a corticosteroid and suggest the person apply cold packs to the area in attempt to relieve the associated pain.

• Often at the base of the big toe an individual will develop a painful and swollen bump known as a bunion. Women are more often affected by bunions than men as women tend to wear high heeled shoes and even at times shoes that are too small thus causing the formation of a bunion. Relief can often be found by using pads to cushion the bunion or trying an over the counter treatment in an attempt to shrink the bunion's size. However, in most cases, surgery is needed to correct the problem and individuals must keep in mind that following surgery they must obtain adequate rest in order to avoid further metatarsalgia.

Ball of the foot pain is very common in those that are overweight. Extra weight puts more pressure on the metatarsals as most all of the body's weight presses on the forefoot when there is movement. Many find relief and often elimination of the pain upon losing those extra pounds.

• At times the metatarsals or bones of the toes may sustain small breaks or stress fractures. These stress fractures can cause a person to alter the way that they distribute the weight on their feet. Most stress fractures require immobilization of the foot in order to allow the fracture to heel.

Prevention Awareness

Most cases of metatarsalgia are not very serious but can certainly be painful as well as irritating. Many of the causes however can be prevented with proper care of the feet. The use of insoles for absorbing shock and arch supports will benefit the active sports minded individual. Anyone who is recovering from some type of injury should not attempt to resume usual activities until they are healed completely as development of an even more severe problem may occur.
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