My boots seem to fit me well, but after about three hours of backpacking the balls of my feet become sore. Friction probably plays a role, so I duct tape the balls of my feet to slow down the pain process. Eventually they do get sore. Any suggestions?
Submitted by - Bob - Oakland Park, FL
There is a pretty long list of things that could be causing the pain, and a visit to a foot doc is usually the shortest route to getting over the problem. But here are my thoughts: The pain could be coming from the metatarsal/phalangeal joints, where the toes join the foot, an area of the foot that receives a lot of impact. A loss of some of the fat pad that covers that area can cause a lot of pain with impact. You can try a metatarsal pad, a padded insert that distributes your weight more throughout the foot instead of directly in that area. Some custom orthotics will include such a pad. (You may have tried already.)
Or it could be a Morton's neuroma. There is a small nerve that travels between the joints. And it can be pinched now and then by the two joints. The nerve is irritated, and scar tissue forms—a neuroma. Tight boots can be the cause. You might be able to recreate the pain by squeezing the wide part of your foot aggressively together. Treatment for this is a drug such as ibuprofen (an NSAID), boots that are wide at the toes, maybe a cortisone shot, and, finally, surgery to remove the neuroma.
Anyway, these are just guesses, and an examination of your by a specialist might be needed.