a nervous tic became a foot problem
November 28, 2011 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Have you ever had this awful tender thing happen to the ball of your foot? How did it get fixed?

I have a habit of tapping my right heel on the floor when I'm thinking. I do a lot of thinking in the office, where I wear flats with very little sole. This has meant I put a lot of repetitive pressure on the ball of my right foot without thinking about it.

Now I have a very, very tender spot surrounding a pea-sized bit of hard skin in the very middle of the ball of my foot. The hard thing is indented from the rest of the skin. When I stand straight on it, it's almost as bad as having a foreign object under there, unless I put a callus protector around it. I thought it would be a corn, and maybe it is, but I used a corn pad on it and now it's even more tender and painful. If it is a corn, it's not accessible to be scraped off, like a corn on the side of the foot or toe.

Has this happened to you? How did you take care of it? I'd like to avoid involving the doctor, but I have to walk everywhere, so I will if it can't be fixed quickly.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
I used to play drums and have the same thing. I also used to flex my big toes up and down. I never fixed it, I just stopped flexing so much, and it doesn't bother me too much anymore. When I first discovered it, however, I used to press on it a lot, and that made it tender. (Quit doing that too, match.)
posted by nevercalm at 7:30 AM on November 28, 2011

Could be your shoes are not helping the condition. Did you check to see if you have a splinter? I would file the skin down, soak your foot in hot water and see if you have a splinter in it. Have you ever had warts? If it is a wart, it might bleed when you file it down so be careful.
posted by Yellow at 7:30 AM on November 28, 2011

Could it be a wart, perhaps? That sounds a lot like where I had a wart in my teens.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:32 AM on November 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Seconding plantar warts. I've had them before too and they hurt like a bitch if they're in a weight-bearing area.
posted by something something at 7:34 AM on November 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

I have one of these, and it could be a plantar wart, but according to my dermatologist, mine is not. It's from a bone shard (soccer player) somewhere up in there that the callus formed to protect. It's nowhere near worth surgery, so all I can do is trim it back with a razor blade every so often.
posted by cmoj at 7:42 AM on November 28, 2011

Could also be a seed corn, or blocked sweat gland. In that case you can basically just dig it out.
posted by true at 7:45 AM on November 28, 2011

I had something similar caused by wearing shoes that were too narrow. Maybe try some shoes with wider soles?
posted by gnutron at 7:47 AM on November 28, 2011

Oh, and how it got fixed -- if it is indeed a Plantar's Wart, I had to get it cut out by my doctor (not just cut off, but cut out -- the thing had a root). We'd tried the over-the-counter wart removers for a while and they just plain didn't work.

The removal was an outpatient thing that took no more than an hour (I didn't even have to go into a hospital, my pediatrician did it right in her office), and while it wasn't the most fun day I'd ever had, it was a relatively quick recovery.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:55 AM on November 28, 2011

I've had something similar to this that turned out to be a deep bruise under the callus of the ball of my foot. Somehow I had thought it would be a good idea to pace around my hardwood-floor apartment while reading, sort of like exercise, but I did it barefoot. The next morning I couldn't put my foot down without it feeling like there was a pebble under the very middle of the ball of my foot. But looking at it, it looked the same as always (some callus but nothing major). The feeling eventually went away on its own, but I had to wear shoes with softer insoles (sneakers) for maybe a week for protection. After a few days I thought it was gone and went back to thin-soled shoes, and it started hurting again within an hour, so give it time to really heal.
posted by vytae at 7:56 AM on November 28, 2011

I had a very similar thing happen when I went for a walk in Crocs without socks on. In the middle of the walk a spot on the ball of my foot started hurting; I realized I could feel a hard sort of nodule under the skin. I thought maybe I had a splinter, but the skin was unbroken. My partner had to give me both of his socks to wear on the injured foot so I could make it back home. The next day I couldn't put any weight on the tender spot without extreme pain, but the day after that I was mobile again. I never figured out what exactly was wrong -- I think I concluded that I had a blister under the callus (which is apparently something that happens, if you Google "blister under callus"), since that seemed more likely than a bruise to be so localized.
posted by enlarged to show texture at 8:56 AM on November 28, 2011

I should add that I've had plantar warts and this was quite different -- a very sudden onset and very acute pain. Is it possible that there was some sort of friction going on between your shoe and your foot as you were tapping your heel?
posted by enlarged to show texture at 9:00 AM on November 28, 2011

It could be a callus. If it is, take a long bath, or at least soak the foot, and use eith fingernails, or a scraper to remove it. It could take several tries.
posted by theora55 at 4:31 PM on November 28, 2011

I agree that it sounds like a callus to me. The person who posted this question had obvious calluses. I didn't; my symptoms were the same as yours, a painful hard spot, and based on krautland's advice I tried cautiously treating the spot with salicylic acid. It worked beautifully.
posted by tangerine at 4:04 PM on November 30, 2011

Plantar wart
posted by pianomover at 7:24 PM on November 30, 2011

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