If everything is functioning as normal, you probably are unaware of the pounding your feet take during the course of even a normal day. We all place tremendous amounts of force on our lower limbs – which becomes easier to realize if you know that the landing foot endures forces up to twice your bodyweight with every step! There are many areas in the foot where potential problems can arise, including the forefoot. In some cases, you might start to notice pain in the front, right behind where your toes connect. At other times, the problem could be a big toe that has drifted out of position. No matter the core issue, forefoot pain is something that can keep you from favorite activities and needs to be addressed.
The Many Causes of Forefoot Pain
When we discuss the forefoot, we are talking about everything from the arch of your foot down to the ends of your toes. This particular area is responsible for not only supporting your weight when you stand, but also for pushing off the ground to propel you forward when you walk. No matter if it’s your metatarsal bones, the joints in the ball of your foot, or even your toes themselves – pain can develop in any part of the forefoot. Here are a few of the most common issues that cause pain in the forefoot:
- Arthritis – Inflammation and damage in your joints can make using them quite painful. You can develop arthritis in any of your forefoot joints, though hallux rigidus in the big toe is a common example.
- Bunions – This condition creates a large bulge on the side of your foot where your big toe meets the ball of your foot. It can be quite uncomfortable and make wearing some shoes difficult.
- Metatarsalgia – This is a general issue with pain in the ball of your foot and actually describes symptoms, which can be related to other conditions. Typically, you experience pain and inflammation with pressure.
- Morton’s Neuroma – Nerves between two metatarsal bones can become pinched and aggravated. The nerve tissue then swells and misfires painfully, creating burning, tingling, and numbness between two toes.
- Sesamoiditis – This is a problem with inflammation around the little sesamoid bones under your big toe. It can lead to pain and toe weakness when you put weight on your foot.
- Stress Fractures – Repetitive, hard impacts can lead to cracks in bone tissue. This is particularly common in your metatarsal bones.
What to Do When Pain Strikes
As with other types of bodily discomfort, forefoot pain doesn’t get better simply by hoping it will improve while you continue to perform normal activities. You need to take measures to identify the specific condition responsible for the problem, and then begin treating it. G. Jason Wilks, DPM and our team at Wilks Advanced Foot Care can use a variety of diagnostic tests and images to determine the cause of your discomfort. From there we will help you implement a treatment plan designed to meet your unique needs. Naturally, treatment will vary depending on the condition, but it can include options like shoe changes or using custom orthotics to better support and cushion your forefoot. You’ll definitely need to take a break from activities that aggravate the problem to allow your feet time to recover. Sometimes options like icing the painful area are helpful as well. In cases like stress fractures, you might need to temporarily wear a special boot to allow the bones to heal properly.
Taking Preventative Measures
Even better than dealing with pain and discomfort from forefoot conditions is preventing them from happening in the first place. You can actually do quite a bit to help prevent conditions that cause forefoot pain. Wearing shoes with low heels and appropriate arch support is one way. Sticking to styles that don’t squeeze or pinch your foot or toes is also important. Conditioning your feet to handle your activities can help prevent a number of issues as well. If you do start noticing discomfort, don’t ignore the problem—take care of it right away before anything gets worse. Pain in the front of your foot can have many sources, but it can also have many solutions. They key is to take care of the problem now, before it has a chance to progress. Our team at Wilks Advanced Foot Care is happy to help you not only accurately diagnose the source of your discomfort but also work with you every step of the way to eliminate it. Don’t settle for pain—take back your comfort! Contact our office in Roseburg, OR, through our website or by calling (541) 673-0742.