A stone bruise is a pain on the ball of your foot or the pad of your heel. Its name has two derivations:
- If you step down hard on a small object — such as a stone or pebble — it’s painful, and often the pain lasts long after your foot is off the pain-causing object.
- When you put weight on a painful area on the bottom of your foot, it feels like you are stepping on a small stone or pebble.
The term stone bruise tends to be a nonmedical catch-all name for pain symptoms that feel like there’s a stone in your shoe, jabbing the bottom of your foot every time you take a step.
The most common cause of a stone bruise is an impact injury to the bottom of your foot caused by stepping down hard on a small hard object such as a rock.
Runners, who have many hard foot impacts when they run, are likely to occasionally find themselves with a stone bruise, especially if they run on rocky terrain.
When your foot makes contact with an object, you might feel the pain immediately, or it may take 24 to 48 hours for the bruise to materialize.
Because we spend so much time on our feet, a bone bruise from an impact injury can be annoyingly persistent, affecting every step we take.
There are a number conditions that produce symptoms that may be mistaken for a stone bruise during self-diagnosis. These include:
Metatarsalgia is inflammation and pain in the ball of your foot and is commonly considered an overuse injury.
It’s characterized by a burning, aching, or sharp pain in the area of your foot just behind your toes. The pain intensifies when you stand, flex your foot, walk, or run.
Causes of metatarsalgia include:
- intense high-impact activity, such as running and jumping
- excess body weight
- poorly fitting shoes
- foot deformities, such as bunions or hammer toe
Treatment for metatarsalgia includes:
- properly fitting shoes
- shock-absorbing insoles or arch supports
- rest, elevation, and ice
- over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication such as aspirin, naproxen (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Advil)
The plantar fascia is band of tissue that connects your toes to your heel bone. When that tissue becomes inflamed, the condition is called plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is usually characterized by a stabbing pain in the sole of your foot, typically near the heel.
The pain from plantar fasciitis tends to be more intense after exercise than during it.
Treatment for plantar fasciitis includes:
- OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve)
- physical therapy and stretching
- a splint to be worn while sleeping
- orthotics, custom-fitted arch supports
- steroid injections