Irish dance ball of foot pain

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

The foot is the most important part of the body for the Irish Dancer.

Most problems with dancers’ feet in Irish Dancing are due to constant pounding up and down on the ball of the foot. This can cause long term injury.

The primary problem that occurs in the ball of the foot is metatarsalgia. This is a condition where repetitive trauma to the ball of the foot causes inflammation of the metatarsalphalangealjoints. Patients may need to see a podiatrist and have special padding applied. Anti-inflammatory medicines may also be helpful.

Stress fractures may also occur and x-rays may be needed.

Another situation that can cause pain in the ball of the foot is Morton’s neuroma. This is a benign nerve tumor. Pain is aggravated by constriction of the foot (eg., tight shoe) and relieved by massage. A diagnosis is made clinically and confirmed by either ultrasound or MRI. This is usually treated with injection of glucocorticoid. Sometimes surgery is required.

Bursitis and tendonitis in the feet can also develop and may be indistinguishable from metatarsalgia.

A few tips... buy well-fitted shoes. Cut toenails straight across the nail and do not curve inwards as this may cause ingrown toenails.

Wash in between the toes as this is an area that can cause fungal growth.

Try to wear socks without seams as these can rub on the toes, cause friction and give blisters.

The arch is a very important part of your foot. Do not tie laces tight around the arch, as it can cause tissue trauma in the arch.

Damage on the top of the foot caused by lacing too tightly is also a concern.

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