Consult Doctors. Free.
Ask a doctor in Singapore. Get answers in 24 hours.
DxD will always be free for the first 1000 members who sign up.
Hello, I’m asking on behalf of my 54 year old mother. Here’s what she has described:
For the past few days, when I step on the floor, my left foot feels like there’s something swollen on the ball of my foot. However, after constant standing due to spring cleaning today, it has swelled up terribly. It doesn’t hurt much unless I walk or exert pressure on it.
She hopes to know if the swelling would go down with time and if applying hot compress would help. I have read that otc ibuprofen would help ease the inflammation, is that true? Thank you. 🙂
Thanks for contacting us about your mum. Sounds like she is quite troubled by the symptoms in her foot.
Dr Ethan has provided a excellent synopsis of the various causes and treatments available for metatarsalgia. This is probably one of the most common causes for foot pain and can be troublesome to treat.
However, pain under the ball of the foot can be caused by other issues. There can be soft tissue bruising from trauma, a bony injury from an acute or stress event, swelling around nerves, tendon issues and so on.
Further questions to ask are about tingling in the foot, onset of the symptoms and progression. These can all give clues to the underlying problems and how to address it.
Simple measures could be wearing comfortable slippers or shoes in the house – often with barefoot living on hard flooring, the symptoms are not given a chance to settle.
I would certainly try the treatments suggested by Dr Ethan – particularly a course of anti-inflammatories if there are no allergies or issues with these medications.
If it’s affecting her mobility, it might be worth reviewing with a Podiatrist or clinician for further assessment, investigation or consideration of orthoses.
Foot pain can be incredibly frustrating, but the important thing is to work out what’s going wrong before moving forward. Hope this all helps your mum and do keep us posted!
Dr Dinesh Sirisena
Sport Medicine Consultant
Your mom’s description sounds typical of Metatarsalgia, a fairly common condition affecting the weight-bearing bones in your foot (the metatarsals).
It’s more common in older people and obese people, and is exacerbated by running/walking/standing – ie any weight-bearing activity.
The most common causes of metatarsalgia are:
- Arthritis (osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Poor footwear
- High impact physical activity (ie running and other activities which place additional stress on the foot)
Gout is also a possibility (this usually affects the big toe), but seems less likely given that this is a very painful condition.
Taking an anti-inflammatory painkiller (NSAID) like ibuprofen will help with the swelling. NSAIDs are also available in topical gel form from your pharmacist (eg. Fastum gel).
Other measures she could try are:
- Icing (wrap an ice pack in a towel, use for 20 minutes a few time a day)
- Rest and elevation of the foot
- Proper footwear (not tight-fitting, high heels etc). Consider seeing a podiatrist for insoles, if necessary.
If these measures don’t work to improve the swelling/pain, and her condition doesn’t get better after a week or 2, do consider seeing a doctor for a proper physical exam and treatment, which may include a steroid injection for more rapid relief.