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Bloomington (812) 333-4422
Bedford (812) 277-1000
Washington (812) 254-2911


What Could be Bothering the Ball of Your Foot?

What Could be Bothering the Ball of Your Foot?

The balls of your feet are like unsung heroes – they help you push off when you step, stand on your tippy toes, jump, and more, but they’re never paid much attention. Of course, all that changes when they start hurting and hindering you from doing things you enjoy!

Pain in the balls of your feet can result from a number of causes, but the two main culprits are metatarsalgia and Morton’s neuroma — which each have numerous causes of their own.


The long bones in your feet that attach to your toes are called metatarsals, and when the ends of these bones become aggravated and inflamed, ball of foot pain ensues! What’s behind this irritation?

  • Repetitive stress, from running a lot of miles, for example, can irritate and even crack your metatarsal bones.
  • Excessive weight. Feet are carrying your body weight already, and extra weight can cause extra stress.
  • Toe deformities. If you have a bunion, or claw or hammertoes, this misalignment of joints and imbalance of muscle can put pressure on your metatarsal.
  • High-heeled shoes. This style of footwear forces your foot in a position that places all your weight on the balls of your feet — no wonder they hurt!
  • Arthritis. Swelling and stiffness of the joints between your toes and metatarsals can result in pain.
  • Diabetes. This condition is often associated with nerve damage in the feet which may cause symptoms of pain, tingling, numbness, and burning. Guess what else has similar symptoms? Morton’s neuroma!

Morton’s neuroma

This occurs when a nerve that runs between the metatarsal bones becomes thickened due to irritation. The result is numbness, tingling, burning, and pain in the ball of your foot, most often (but not always) affecting the area between the third and fourth toes.

Metatarsalgia and Morton’s neuroma are often found together, but can luckily be treated conservatively, with rest, a switch to roomier, lower-heeled shoes, orthotics, and breaking up activities with low-impact options like swimming and yoga. If these methods fail to provide relief, nerve decompression surgery may need to be considered. If you are struggling with ball of foot pain, call our Bloomington, IN office for an appointment today by dialing (812) 333-4422. We can get you the help you need!

Preventing That “Pebble in Your Shoe” Feeling

Are you participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Sept 24 here in Bloomington? What a great charitable cause and excuse to get out there and get some exercise! Of course, if it feels like you have a pebble in your shoe every time you go walking, and when you stop to dump it out, nothing’s there, well, that can definitely be annoying and take away from you walking enjoyment! It also just happens to be a signature symptom of Morton’s neuroma and an associated condition called metatarsalgia.

Morton’s neuroma is the swelling of a nerve in the ball of your foot, most often between your third and fourth toes. It can feel like your sock is wadded up or a pebble is stuck in your shoe. It can also aggravate the long metatarsal bones that connect your foot to your toes, causing additional pain and inflammation in the ball of your foot.

Luckily, there are ways you can prevent that “pebble in your shoe” feeling and do all the walking you please, pain- (and pebble) free!

  • Some foot structures can make you prone to an abnormal gait, placing uneven pressure on your feet, and pinching your nerves. Have your gait assessed and invest in some orthotics so your foot mechanics don’t cause problems.
  • Make sure your shoes fit well, offer plenty of cushion in the ball of your foot, and ample room to wiggle your toes. When shoes are too tight or squeeze toes, they can pinch nerves and make them swell!
  • Take breaks and cross-train to avoid standing for too long or placing excessive or repetitive stress on your forefoot.

If these prevention tips don’t seem to provide any more relief than dumping out the contents of your shoe or adjusting your sock, don’t hang up your walking shoes just yet! Nerve decompression surgery could be just what you need to relieve symptoms. Find out more about this by giving us a call. You can reach our Bloomington, IN office by dialing (812) 333-4422 and we’ll be happy to “walk” you through it!

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