Metatarsalgia, Morton’s neuroma, and sesamoiditis cause ball of the foot pain. There are many conservative treatment options available for relieving this type of pain.
There are many causes for why the patient might develop ball of the foot pain. Morton’s neuroma, sesamoiditis, and metatarsalgia are three common causes. In metatarsalgia, the patient’s wearing of improper footwear and engaging in certain activities are the causes of the inflammation . Sesamoiditis affects the big toe area, where the tendons are injured. When the tissue around the nerve located between the toes is thickened, that condition is called Morton’s neuroma. In this disorder, the patient will experience not only pain, but they will also have numbness in the ball of the foot. Again, ill-fitting or poor support in footwear is a culprit.1 Activities such as the likes of jumping and running can trigger the onset of metatarsalgia.
This disorder is preventable through a conservative style of treatment.2 Another name for metatarsalgia is “stone bruise”. The area of the foot that experiences this is the metatarsal (ball of foot). It is located around the middle toes. Metatarsalgia affects the bones and joints. The pain can impact any area or areas from only a toe or two, the entire foot, or both feet. Putting weight on the foot increases the pain. The pain makes regular standing and walking more difficult.
Middle-aged females are the most likely demographic that metatarsalgia will affect. Nonetheless, anyone of any age or background can have this disorder.
Symptoms can be described as similar to the feeling of walking on small rocks, tingling, numbness, shooting pain, or a burning sensation. The pain is most likely to increase when the patient is walking on a hard surface. Stress on the foot, being overweight, age, fractures, and poorly fitted footwear can all trigger symptoms. Bunions, diabetes, Morton’s neuroma, and rheumatoid arthritis can also cause metatarsalgia.3 Morton’s neuroma pain has been similarly described as akin to the feeling of walking small stones. Trauma, pressure, and irritation trigger the thickened tissue of the forefoot, by the third and fourth toes. High-heeled shoes are more likely to aggravate Morton’s neuroma than properly fitted shoes.4 Sesamoiditis pain is also felt on the ball of the foot, but the pain originates from around the big toes. There may be bruising, swelling, or pain in bending the big toe.5
Traditional Treatment Options
Conservative treatments for metatarsalgia would include losing excess weight, not engaging in high impact running and jumping exercises, and getting properly fitted footwear. Health experts often prescribe ice, anti-inflammatory medication, rest, orthotics, metatarsal pads, shock-absorbing insoles, and arch supports as part of the healing process. Serious cases of metatarsalgia might be referred for steroid injections or surgery.6 Treatment of Morton’s neuroma also involves orthoses, changes in footwear, anti-inflammatory medication, and corticosteroid injections.7 As in the other two conditions, sesamoiditis is often treated with NSAIDs, rest, ice, wearing a cushioning pad, switching to low-heeled and comfortable shoes, and steroid injections.
In addition to these methods, patients can try taping the big toe so that it stays in a position of being bent slightly downward. This is also called plantar flexion. In long-term cases, patients may need to wear a special, removable brace for a month or more. The time spent treating the aforementioned conditions is nothing compared to the long-term effects if treatment is not sought.8
Alternative Treatment Options
Chiropractic care can treat patients who suffer from ball of the foot pain. In addition to this, a practitioner of chiropractic care is also able to treat other conditions of the feet and musculoskeletal symptoms. The chiropractor will look at the patient’s entire body to find out if another condition is contributing to symptoms in the feet and vice versa. Often, chiropractors will help patients with exercises, stretches, and finding appropriate orthotics and footwear. A chiropractor will be able to make recommendations of exercises and stretches for the patient to try at home in order to keep up symptom relief and further the healing process. There are other natural methods and lifestyle changes that the patient can make that will help their pain and overall wellness.
Chiropractors can also provide gentle adjustments for misalignments in the foot which could be causing other issues.9 The Activator tool may be used in the adjustment, and chiropractors can work slowly in order to help the joints through the process of their normal range of motion. Orthotics, such as Foot Levelers, could also be helpful.10 Some patients may need to wear indoor shoes around the house, as the lack of support from bare feet could aggravate their condition. Patients need to take care of their feet because the pain that they experience could be compounded and eventually affect other areas of the body if the condition which is causing the pain is left untreated for too long.
4, 7 http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00158
5, 8 http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00164
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