Bottom of foot pain

Bottom of foot pain tends to be located in the ball of the foot, the heel or the arches. Bottom of foot pain can be intense, and usually makes walking difficult and is usually the result of wearing inappropriate shoes, where adverse pressure is placed on the bones and joints of the feet.

Ball of foot pain is referred to as metatarsalgia, and the source of the pain is at the heads of the metatarsal bones. The ball of the foot takes half of the body weight, however when wearing high heeled shoes more of the weight is transferred to this area. High heeled shoes are often implicated in this condition, especially when combined with obesity or extra weight being carried. The pain is often described as like walking on stones or as a dull ache. Foot conditions such as hammertoes, bunions and claw toes can be contributory factors.

If the pain is located between the third and fourth toes, it makes Morton’s Neuroma a possibility, as this is the main site for this condition. A neuroma is where the nerve tissue thickens and is the result of pressure to the nerve. Whilst this can occur in other areas of the foot, it is less common. The pain present itself as a numbness or tingling sensation at first and may well feel like there is an object inside the ball of the foot.  The pain starts slowly and is intermittent, however over time the condition can deteriorate as the neuroma grows and can lead to permanent nerve damage. People with the condition often have hypersensitive feet and walking in normal shoes can be painful. It is often caused by shoes with a narrow toe box, which causes pressure on the nerve. The problem requires a medical diagnosis, however pain can be relieved by orthotic soles in the shoes, padding and anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen.

Bottom of foot pain between the heel and the ball of the foot is due to a problem with the foot arches.  The arches are the area of the foot which serves as a shock absorber. The most common cause is inflammation of muscle which connects the heel to the toes, and is termed plantar fasciitis. The condition is caused by overstretching of the muscle and is usually a sign of flat feet.  As the muscle becomes stretched, pain in the heel and arches results. One of the best treatments for the condition is the use of an orthotic sole, which gives additional support to the arches of the feet and cushions the step. Without any treatment it is unlikely that the symptoms and the pain will go away on their own. Plantar fasciitis is the major cause of heel pain.

Sesamoiditis is a condition which affects the sesamoid apparatus in the foot. The sesamoid bones are two small bean-like bones which are located behind the big toe in the ball of the foot. Their location in a major weight bearing area can leave them prone to injury. The condition can present itself as a dull ache or a sharp pain when walking.  It is a difficult condition to treat due to the size of the bones and the fact that being off the feet is not a possibility for most. Using correct footwear with adequate padding and support can prevent the problem and cause some relief.

In a large number of cases bottom of foot pain is due to trauma or stress injuries, and it is a common problem with athletes, especially those who place a great deal of pressure on the ball of the foot, such as baseball catchers, runners and joggers.  A thorough warm up and warm down can help to prevent injuries to the bottom of the foot, and wearing the correct footwear which gives adequate support to the feet is vital.