Further Causes of Pain in the Ball of the Foot: Part 2

Posted by Dr. Jeffrey L. Adler

Apr 5, 2013 1:46:00 PM

How the Body Reacts to Pain in the Ball of the Foot

pain on ball of footLast time we began our discussion about what causes pain on the ball of the foot. We left off learning about the part of your foot that is the “ball” and why a dropped metatarsal causes pain.

The dropped metatarsal traps the skin and soft tissue between the bone and the ground as weight is put on the foot. The body reacts by saying, “Gee, we have lost some of the fat-pad that is beneath this bone and this bone might begin to poke through the skin on the bottom of the foot. Help!”

The high pressure on the specialized skin beneath the dropped bone begins to thicken and dense tissue called callus tissue is formed in this area. This helps cushion the soft-tissue temporarily, but the callus becomes an additional irritant.

Additionally, as the bone or bones in the ball of the foot continue to drop the callus can no longer prevent the chance of the bone poking through the skin on the bottom of the feet as you walk. The body reacts to this by forming its natural shock-absorber the bursal sac. The bursal sac is a little bag of fluid that forms between the bottom of the metatarsal heads and the skin.

The bursal sac helps deflect pressure and puts additional tissue between the metatarsal bone and the ground. This forms what I like to call a “pain sandwich” because the bursal sac is loaded with fluid and nerves making it highly sensitive to increased pressure and is “sandwiched” on the top by the metatarsal bone and on the bottom by calluses as well as the ground.

Any pressure on the ball of the foot when the bursal sac is inflammed and swollen (such as walking, wearing high-heeled shoes and walking barefoot) causes further pain in this area. Eventually, the high pressure in the ball of the foot becomes so severe that it can cause the fat pad to further disappear and the fluid in the bursal sac to harden.

This pain in the ball of the foot can become excruciating and can cause the body to try to avoid placing pressure on the ball of the foot. The sufferer is then forced to change their walk to an abnormal walk. This throws pressure onto other areas of the feet and up the leg causing more pain.

Modern podiatry can treat this problem quickly, easily and permanently to get the sufferer pain-free and functioning well. To find out your treatment options for pain in the ball of foot, contact us for a free consultation.

What kind of pain in the ball of the foot have you experienced?


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Topics: foot problems, foot pain