Physiotherapy Q&A: I feel like I have something stuck in my shoe, but there is nothing there! What is causing this?

‘I have had a pain in the ball of my foot for the past few months, and it feels like there is a pebble stuck in my shoe or my sock is rucked up under my foot but when I look in my shoe there is nothing there. Sometimes the pain goes down into a couple of my toes and sometimes they feel a bit numb. Is this anything to worry about and what can I do to help?’

Anne Marie Pier, Horder Healthcare Chartered Physiotherapist, answers the question:

Firstly, let me reassure you that this is quite a common set of symptoms and most of the time is nothing to worry about. It sounds like there may be some soft tissue inflammation in the forefoot, for example bursitis or a neuroma. Sometimes the soft tissues in between the long bones of the foot become compressed and get inflamed, especially in between the 2nd and 3rd bones and the 3rd and 4th bones in line with the corresponding toes.

To help this problem, soft, flat, wide shoes are best, maybe with some extra cushioning under the ball of your foot or something to offload that area, for example a metatarsal pad or a metatarsal dome. These are easily accessible from most chemists. Sometimes stretching the calf muscle and the arch of the foot can also help.

If things don’t improve, seeing a podiatrist or a physiotherapist could be helpful to ensure there is nothing else causing your pain and to identify ongoing treatment options. If you notice swelling of the area, worsening pins and needles or numbness or changes in your foot posture you should also seek advice, either from a podiatrist, physiotherapist or your GP.

If you have more specific questions or concerns about this type of problem, then seek a referral to a physiotherapist or ring and book in to see one. Horder Healthcare provides physiotherapy services in East Sussex at our locations in Eastbourne, Seaford and Crowborough. 

What makes Horder Healthcare unique

Horder Healthcare is committed to providing the very best quality of care for our patients and customers. We are continuously working on improving and reducing risks and this is reflected in our consistently high CQC results, patient satisfaction questionnaires and minimal levels of infection.

Latest news and articles

sports injuries

8 Most Common Sports Injuries: Treatment and Prevention

syed ahmed 2

Consultant Q&A: Mr Syed Ahmed


The Horder Centre provides ‘career saving’ physiotherapy to injured international decathlete

We are a charity

We reinvest our profit to benefit more people and help us achieve our aim of advancing health.