Mystery pain in sole of left foot
May 7, 2008 8:12 PM   Subscribe

I suddenly developed a knot/lump and pain in the ball of my foot late last night that has persisted for 24 hours. I know it's not plantar fasciitis as I don't have stabbing pains in my heel or midfoot.

I was walking around the house last night in some ill-fitting socks that got twisted around and creased to the point where they were uncomfortable to walk in, so I took them off. Immediately, I felt as if there was a lump in the ball of my left foot, and it was very sore when I walked on carpet or the wood floor. I presumed I had contorted my sole in an attempt not to walk on the creased part of the sock.

I went to bed shortly afterwards, and when I got up this morning, it felt significantly better, but it's been getting bad again and now hurts as much as last night. I've been barefoot in the house all day, no socks or shoes. Massage with my little rubber reflex hammer, which helped a lot with the plantar fasciitis I dealt with a couple of years ago, doesn't seem to break up the knot or relieve the soreness.

The ball of the left foot is definitely swollen. The lump -- right in the middle -- is sore when pressed. The top of my left foot, at the instep, feels bruised in comparison to my right foot, but nothing is visibly different. I've taken some Advil and am resting my left foot on an icepack and it seems to be helping a bit.

Right now, I'm presuming that this is a weird but temporary strain that will resolve itself in another day or so. But are there any other scenarios or treatments that I should consider?
posted by maudlin to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
It could be a sesamoid fracture. Does the ball of your foot hurt with every step when you are flexing the rear foot?

There are two tiny little jelly-bean shaped bones in the ball of your foot called sesamoids that help guide the flexing tendon in your foot. I fractured one of mine last year for no apparent reason - it's the sort of injury that can come and go as the fracture sometimes heals and breaks again. A quick x-ray would tell you/your doctor for sure. Pain in the... foot... to get the little bugger to heal. Good luck! I hope it's not this :)
posted by at 8:57 PM on May 7, 2008

Could be a Morton's neuroma.
posted by acorncup at 9:14 PM on May 7, 2008

I occasionally get weird foot cramps for no good reason. Try eating a banana, sometimes it helps with cramps.
posted by yohko at 10:24 PM on May 7, 2008

I had the same symptoms a month or so ago. Turned out it was a blister.
posted by a22lamia at 3:33 AM on May 8, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the ideas so far, everyone. My foot is only slightly swollen compared to my right foot now and is significantly less sore. I hardly feel the lump when I walk on carpet, but going down the stairs and walking on the wood floor makes it a little more sore. (Yes, a22lamia, it definitely feels like a wad of gum under there -- annoying!) I'll see if it gets more sore through the day as I continue walking around the house.

I didn't think Morton's Neuroma was likely when I followed the link, because it's dull pain rather than something sharp or burning, but someone in a22lamia's thread with Morton's describes symptoms similar to mine. Maybe the sharp pain hits if it's left untreated for a long time.

It could be a fracture. It could be bursitis. It could be Morton's. It could be (although this seems less likely) a blister, as I have no wart or callus on my forefoot. But I will ice and wear my indoor shoes and orthotics all day today, and I'll set up an appointment with my sports medicine specialist next week if this doesn't let up. If I get a diagnosis, I'll pop back in here and add in that info.

Any other hypotheses while I wait are still very welcome.
posted by maudlin at 4:26 AM on May 8, 2008

Best answer: I've gotten these same symptoms the 2 times I've walked around barefoot on my hardwood floors for a constant 60-90 minutes. I walk around in socks or barefoot in my house all the time, but it's usually a quick walk between rooms, then sitting, then standing still, etc. In the cases where my feet ended up with swelling and pain under the ball of the foot, it was just constant walking - I tend to pace when I'm on the phone, and those were two long phone calls. I'm surprised at how much of a difference it made, but apparently that pacing pounded my feet a lot more than they were used to.

My conclusion was that I just had some swelling and possibly deep bruising due to all the walking on hard surfaces. It took a couple days, but it eventually went away on its own. In the mean time, I would recommend wearing your most well-padded shoes and keeping your feet up as much as possible.
posted by vytae at 8:30 AM on May 8, 2008

Seconding acorncup. If it feels like you're walking on a pebble (or marble, or pea…you get the idea) that is exactly the symptom I had with Morton's neuroma. When you go to feel for the lump with your hand you can't really find anything, but when you walk on it, it's definitely there.

Morton's is very common and podiatrists can almost diagnose it over phone (as a matter of fact, their receptionists can almost diagnose it over the phone). Obnoxious, but common and easily treated.
posted by dinger at 9:04 AM on May 8, 2008

Response by poster: Well, it looks as if I had what vytae had. I was pacing a lot this week, most of it barefoot on a hard floor, but the phantom walnut-sized lump was gone and my foot felt 100% better by Friday night. No fracture, no Morton's -- whew!

Thanks again, everyone.
posted by maudlin at 12:28 PM on May 10, 2008

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