01st April 2023
12 Reasons for Ball of Foot PainDr. Jill Barat, PharmD
The catch-all term for general pain in the ball of your foot is metatarsalgia.
The metatarsals are the 5 bones in each foot that are directly behind and attached to your toes that provide support for the fleshy ball area at the front of your foot.
So, when there is pain around the same area as the metatarsals, it is referred to as metatarsalgia.
There are a few different reasons why you might be having pain in this area, and in this article, we will cover some of the most common causes of pain in the ball of your foot.
Symptoms of Metatarsalgia
The feeling of having a rock or something small and hard in your shoe.
Pain that worsens when you move your feet, run, or walk.
Pain that feels better when you rest your feet and do not move them.
Sharp pains, numbness, or tingling in your toes.
Aching, sharp, or burning pain in the ball of your foot.
Redness, swelling, and inflammation towards the front bottom of your foot.
1. Excessive high-impact training
If your exercise regimen consists of lots of running or jumping, this could be putting extra strain on your metatarsals leading to ball of foot pain.
If you feel the pain coming on and you know it is likely from that marathon you have been training for, do your feet a favor and have a few days rest with regular icing to see if the pain subsides.
2. Foot deformities
Feet can become deformed over years of wearing way too tight footwear, or from clinical issues such as bunions or hammertoes.
Eventually, these deformities can alter the parts of your foot that carry your weight or distribute pressure from everyday activities.
Excess pressure put on the front of the foot from foot deformities could lead to metatarsalgia.
Looking into properly fitting shoes or padded shoe inserts may help with the ball of foot pain from foot deformities.
3. Shoes that do not fit correctly
If your shoes are too big or too small, you could be unevenly distributing the weight of everyday activities.
Speak with your podiatrist or local shoe store about ensuring that your shoes have an optimal fit to help avoid ball of foot pain.
4. The way your foot is shaped
Sometimes, the natural shape of your foot could lead to foot pain even with moderate and normal activity.
If your arch is very high, or your second toe sticks out further than your big toe, you may be putting excess pressure on the wrong parts of your foot.
Talking with your foot doctor about orthopedic shoes or inserts may help lessen the pain from the way your feet are shaped.
5. Unhealed stress fractures
With most injuries, if you start using the injured area too soon or too intensely after the injury, you could be setting yourself up for a painful situation.
If you have a stress fracture in your feet, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions on recommended rest time before signing up for that soccer team or 5k.
6. Being overweight
Your feet are best off when they are supporting the optimal weight for your height and bone structure.
If you had a rapid increase in weight or have struggled long-term with weighing too much, this could contribute to pain when walking or performing everyday activities on your feet.
Speak with your doctor or dietitian about ways to get you to a healthy weight to make sure your feet are not paying the price.
7. Morton’s Neuroma
A condition called Morton’s Neuroma can cause ball of foot pain by the tissues around the nerves in the metatarsals thickening.
This causes a pinched nerve type of pain and is best handled by a podiatrist.
8. Wearing high heels
While they may look great with your new cocktail dress, wearing high heels on a regular basis could be putting extra pressure on the front of your foot and cause ball of foot pain.
No matter how cute those stilettos look, they are not optimally suited to properly distribute your weight and reduce foot pain.
But, if you aren’t quite ready to give up on your favorite wedges, stick to wearing them only on special occasions to make sure they don’t contribute to long-term foot discomfort.
Arthritis is a disease causing excess inflammation and pain in joints.
And, since each foot has 30 joints, there are lots of places for arthritis to cause pain in your feet.
Take your arthritis medications, anti-inflammatories, and use medicated pain creams as prescribed to help ease any arthritis pain in your feet.
10. Frieberg disease
In a condition called Freibergs disease, the front part of the metatarsal bones at the ball of the foot start crumbling.
This leads to a ball of foot pain and occurs most often in adolescence or in your 20s.
Sesamoiditis is a disease characterized by inflammation in the tendons of the foot.
This condition is often seen in sports and activities that put lots of pressure on the ball of the foot such as long-distance running, football, or ballet dancing.
With age, the fat in parts of your body that help pad high-impact areas tends to thin out, potentially making even everyday walking pressure a painful experience.
Finding ways to protect those delicate foot nerves and bones could come in the form of better-fitting shoes or a padded foot insert.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.