There is a bizarre feeling that can happen beneath the forefoot that is frequently described as a feeling that the sock is scrunched up beneath the toes, but if you checked it it is fine. The sense is frequently referred to and is typically confusing. Most probably the actual sensation is a result of a problem with a ligament at the base of one or more of the metatarsophalangeal (toe) joints of the foot called plantar plate dysfunction. About every joint, there's a strong covering known as the joint capsule. Parts of each joint capsule are thicker which are the ligaments that secure and stabilise the joints. Underneath the bottom of the metatarsophalangeal joints, that joint capsule is thicker to make what is known as the plantar plate. It is possible to strain and even get a small tear in that plantar plate, which in turn produces that experience of a sock that seems like its bunched up under the toes.
Pain usually commences slowly and gradually under the ball of the foot and can be preceded by that weird scrunched sock feeling. The most common characteristic of plantar plate dysfunction is soreness on palpation in the vicinity of the plantar plate. A skilled clinician will be able to slowly move the joint in a way to detect when the plantar plate is damaged. A conclusive diagnosis can be performed with a diagnostic ultrasound, but it can be fairly evident to a competent clinician on assessment. Usually the first treatment is strapping to hold the toe pointing down to relieve the force on the plantar plate. A metatarsal pad is also frequently used to help in reducing the strain on the plantar plate. This often helps many cases of plantar plate dysfunction and get rid of that peculiar experience of a bunched up sock beneath the ball of the foot. In the event that those conservative treatments do not help, surgical repair of a partial or complete tear of the plantar plate is often carried out.