Causes of Pain in the Balls of Feet


The medical term for pain in the ball of the foot is metatarsalgia. It’s an umbrella term for a symptom that can have lots of possible causes, instead of a medical diagnosis in and of itself.

Those with metatarsalgia experience pain and inflammation in the cushioning straight below the toes, which is where we place one of the most pressure when standing and moving.

The pain is generally present in the metatarsal heads– the joint that is just under your toes — or the big toe. You might also experience shooting pain, numbness, and pain with bending the toes. The pain may alleviate when you are off your feet and return when you resume your normal activities.

Ball of foot pain is relatively typical and treatable in most cases, primarily when the cause has been determined.


An individual can establish metatarsalgia due to several factors, and it’s crucial to narrow down the cause to implement the very best treatment. Metatarsalgia may be brought on by:

  • extreme physical activity
  • having a high arch or a second toe longer than the big toe
  • stress fractures
  • using high heels or shoes that are too little
  • hammer toe and bunions
  • being overweight
  • metatarsal joint pain or arthritis

Also, some particular conditions can trigger the ball of foot pain. In Morton’s neuroma, the area by the third and 4th toe is affected. This is triggered by a thickening of the tissues around the nerves causing the toes.

Freiberg disease can also be a cause. With this condition, part of the metatarsal head loses structural stability, leading to collapse in the head of the 2nd metatarsal and close-by joint.

Metatarsalgia can also be brought on by sesamoiditis. Sesamoiditis is broken or swollen pulley-like bones that are linked to tendons instead of other bones (like the knee cap). This condition is common in those with high physical activity, like ballet dancers or runners.

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Symptoms of metatarsalgia can include:

  • Sharp, hurting or burning pain in the ball of your foot– the part of the sole simply behind your toes
  • Pain that gets worse when you stand run flex your feet or walk– particularly barefoot on a hard surface– and improves when you rest
  • Sharp or shooting pain, numbness, or tingling in your toes
  • A feeling of having a pebble in your shoe

When to see a medical professional

Not all foot problems need healthcare. Often your feet pains after a long day of standing or a penalizing exercise. However, it’s best not to neglect foot pain that lasts more than a few days. Speak with your doctor if you have a burning pain in the ball of your foot that does not improve after altering your shoes and customizing your activities.

Complications Related to Metatarsalgia

Left without treatment, metatarsalgia might lead to pain in other parts of the very same or opposite foot and pain elsewhere in the body, such as the low back or hip, due to limping (transformed gait) from foot pain.


Various foot issues can cause symptoms similar to those of metatarsalgia. To help pinpoint the source of your pain, your physician will examine your foot while you stand and while you sit and ask about your way of life and activity level. You might require an X-ray to determine or dismiss a stress fracture or other foot issues.

How to Treat a Pain in the Balls of My Feet

Conservative measures– such as resting, altering shoes, or using a metatarsal pad — might be all you require to alleviate symptoms and signs.

In uncommon cases, when conservative steps don’t ease your pain and your metatarsalgia is made complex by foot conditions such as hammertoe, surgery to straighten the metatarsal bones might be an option.

There are many home remedies for metatarsalgia. If your symptoms aren’t caused by a more significant concern, such as Freiberg disease or diabetes, your doctor will probably suggest some or all of the following. It would be best if you experienced relief in a matter of days.

Rest your foot when you can, particularly after periods of activity. Utilize an ice bag for 20-minute periods, followed by 20 minutes off. The ice will help relieve inflammation and reduce swelling.

Steps That Helps to Relief Pain in Your Feet

Use comfy shoes. If you wear high heels, your doctor will probably advise that you change your footwear. You’ll also want to make sure that your shoes fit appropriately. Tight shoes can trigger your feet, do not line up effectively while you stand and walk, producing incorrect balance.

Workout. While you will not wish to participate in running or particular high-impact sports during this time, targeted stretches can reduce pain and boost flexibility and strength. You’ll likely want to practice your stretches a couple of times a day until the pain is eliminated.

Usage orthotic inserts. Depending on the level of intensity, your physician might prescribe orthotic inserts or suggest business shoe inserts. Orthotic inserts can help line up the foot and supply additional cushioning. A pad under the ball of the foot can reduce pain too. Shop for orthotic inserts.

Manage your body weight. Excess weight can put extra pressure on the balls of your feet, and decreasing your weight can assist eliminate this pressure. Your physician can advise management based upon your lifestyle and any other health problems.

Take pain medication. Your doctor might recommend taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or another type of pain reliever. If your case of metatarsalgia is severe, the medical professional might likewise prescribe injectable steroids which you will receive in-office. You can find the most effective OTC painkillers in our article.

If your metatarsalgia is brought on by a hammertoe, a pinched nerve, or a similar type of complication, an orthopedic surgeon or podiatrist might choose if restorative surgery is the very best course of action. Nevertheless, the treatments above treatment ball of foot pain most of the times.

Specific conditions will require additional treatment. If you have Freinberg’s disease, treatment includes using stiff inserts to put under the metatarsal pad or rock-bottom shoes. If you have Morton’s neuroma, you’ll also use foot pads. In severe cases of this condition, your doctor may utilize injections or surgery on the afflicted area to relieve nerve pain.

What is the Outlook for the Ball of Foot Pain?

Many cases of the ball of foot pain can be fixed with treatment. Using comfy shoes and preserving a healthy weight can assist prevent ball of foot pain. If your metatarsalgia is an outcome of workout, let your foot rest as much as possible until the pain subsides.

In all cases, look for the advice of a physician. This will accelerate your recovery, as you’ll be receiving cause-specific care.

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