Ball of the Foot Pain
Hammer Toe Deformity Home Treatment: [Causes & Symptoms]
A hammer toe deformity is usually caused by tightness through the flexor and extensor tendons. There are many things you can do about this even at home.
- Metatarsalgia: which means generalized foot pain without a specific cause.
- Second toe capsulitis: this is the inflammation of the second toe joint capsule.
- Capsulitis is related to hammertoe formation, and can lead to a plantar plate tear. There is some overlap between these three disorders. As they get worse tearing and ligament damage can occur.
- Morton’s neuroma: this is the damage and inflammation to the nerves between and underneath the metatarsal joints.
- Fat pad atrophy of the ball of the foot: this is the loss of cushioning in the ball the foot.
So, click on the photo gallery to see the specific causes of your ball of the foot pain!
Click on the photo gallery to see the specific causes of your ball of the foot pain!
Hammer Toe Deformity Overview:
The second and third toes are usually painful during walking as a result of a toe deformity known as hammer toes. This occurs when the toes change from their normal straight shape in to an arch like claw. This occurs because of three main reasons:
- 1) Flat Feet
- 2) Improper shoes
- 3) Injuries or improper biomechanics
If you would like to know more about what causes hammer toes, visit our hammer toe guide:
Causes of hammer toe deformities are tightness through the flexor tendons and extensor tendons.
- Flexor tendons bend the toes downward.
- Extensor tendons extend the toe.
- Either of these tendons can get tight or scared.
- The big toe can also deform under the 2nd toe and push it up or to the side.
- The 2nd toe is usually the toe most deformed.
- Hammer toes can usually lead to pain in the middle top knuckle, and the tip of the toe.
- This pain can be sharp, shooting and tingling.
- It can get worse while standing for long period of time.
- It can get worse while walking in a shoe for long period of time.
- It can get worse during the day, especially on hard surfaces.
- You can have a hard time fitting into a shoe.
The hammer toes that cause pain in the second, third and even fourth toes are treatable at home if they are still flexible and not rigid.
- Grab your toes with your finger and see if you can bend the joints and if the toes are still able to be straightened without a great deal of pain.
- If they are still flexible then home treatment can still work and the toes can be straightened out.
- But if they are rigid and non-bendable then surgery may be indicated for those toes.
- The primary goals of treatment are to address the painful foot corns and the calluses.
Hammer Toe Deformity Treatment Options:
- Toe splinting– Jill’s foot pads and other gel pads will help prevent callus formation greatly.
- Treat your Flat Foot – flat foot is the number one cause of the development of hammer toes, as long as it persists the tendons that insert into the toes will be tight in some areas and loose in other areas. The basics of flat foot treatment are wearing the proper shoes, correcting your biomechanics through addressing prior injuries and deformities as well as wearing proper biomechanical corrective devices such as orthotics.
- Proper Shoes– Use a Brannock device to properly measure your shoe size; this includes measuring your foot width, foot length and arch length. Make sure you do this every couple of years and always measure your shoe size at the end of the day when your feet are the most swollen.
- Bigger Shoe– Try wearing a shoe that is a half size larger than what the Brannock device tells you that your foot size is. If your feet are a different size then wear a pair of shoes that comfortably fits the larger foot. See if your foot pain is relieved by wearing open to sandals to see if this is the approach for you.
- Avoid Tight or Heeled Shoes– If possible try to avoid shoes that jam your toes, or high heels that put more pressure on your forefoot. This would also reduce the irregular muscle forces that are affecting your toes as explained in the flat foot section.
- If you have diabetes, peripheral vascular disease or smoke you should see your podiatrist to address these problems as they greatly impact your healing time.
- Toe Exercises- Try picking up a towel with your toes for 15 minutes while you watch TV.
The real key to fix outside of the foot pain in order:
1) Most important is a good orthotic for your shoe.
- Give these 1-2 weeks of effort and you will really notice the pain relief.
- This does not instantly fix the pain, but prevents future damage.
2) Gel pad to offload the toe.
- This will give your toes some cushion to keep pressure off the toes.
- Read below to see the specific gel pads for each specific condition.
3) Ankle brace for the most possible correction.
- Check the recommended braces below.
- For ankle pain this is almost guaranteed to improve your problem
4)Menthol based cream for pain relief.
- Creams and gels like biofreeze act like ice but save you 20 minutes!
- Check below for our recommended pain relief options.
Find out more about hammer toe deformity associated pain:
Ball of the Foot Pain Treatment Infographic:
Ball of the Foot Home Treatment:
- Consider taping, orthotics and great shoes as a combination to fix your foot problem.
- Products are not always necessary to fix your problem.
- The key is correcting the biomechanics that are leading to forefoot overload. Foot overload means too much pressure in the ball of the foot.
- Generally something called ankle joint equinus can lead to a too much pressure in the ball of your foot. This means your ankle is not flexible enough to move up and down.
- Ball of the foot pain treatment consists of two phases, first is control inflammation, next is to control bio-mechanics.
Remove Control Inflammation:
Massage & Ice Products:
- The metal ball is one of my personal favorites.
- This works great for your arch, less for the ball of the foot.
- These can help relax the arch or heel ligaments, leading to less pressure in the ball of the foot.
- Pills, creams and ice will never completely fix your problem alone. What they will do is reduce the pressure on the area.
Menthol Based Gels:
- Biofreeze is one of our favorites.
- These gels have been studied to work 2x as long as ice.
- This works great for the ball of the foot.
- Consider using these as options when resting on the couch or going to sleep at night.
- These can work great for loosening your muscles.
- This is means for your hamstring and calf muscles. This can loosen the ankle tightness putting pressure on the ball of your foot.
- This allows less tightness and pressure on the ball of your foot.
Ball of the Foot Stress Relief.
- The key is to prevent future pain.
- If you can get rid of the pain and swelling, this will let you start walking normally.
- If you can walk normally, the vast majority of your pain should gradually start to go away.
- This means proper cushion, proper stability and pressure relief from the front of your foot.
- This will relieve pressure from your big toe, your 2nd toe, your Morton’s neuroma, your plantar plate, hammer toes and joint capsules.
Best Metatarsalgia Shoes:
- Getting a great supportive pair of shoes will make sure that there is pressure removed from the ball of your foot.
- This is especially important if you have a metatarsalgia, a Morton’s neuroma, 2nd metatarsal overload syndrome and capsulitis!
- Consider shoes combined with a good supportive orthotic for best pain relief!
- The following link will show you what our favorites are.
Best Ball of the Foot Insoles:
- These are our recommended orthotics & insoles.
- There are different types for different shoes.
- Women’s shoes usually need a less bulky orthotic, but allow for less correction.
- A full length orthotic requires a running shoe, boot or comfortable walking/dress shoe.
Best Full Length Orthotics:
- Full length orthotics are the most recommended type for ball of the foot pain.
- Be aware that if they are too uncomfortable, it might be worth starting with a less corrective pair.
- Eventually you can then work your way up to these.
Best Dress Shoe Orthotics:
- These are a stronger option for shoes with tight dress shoes.
- Just be aware that less corrective orthotics & tight shoes are usually not a good combination.
Best 3/4 Length Orthotics:
- These may be a good option for ball of the foot if the full length orthotics are too tight or too uncomfortable.
Get A Great Dynamic Stretch:
- It is possible to stretch on your own, but these products can also really help!
- Personally I have the stationary block set up in my kitchen to stretch every day multiple times while getting my coffee!
- This will take pressure off of the ball of your foot.
Ball of the Foot Pain