THE FACTS ON BALL OF FOOT PAIN:
WHAT IS BALL OF FOOT PAIN?
The ball of the foot is the portion of the foot between your arch and toes, where bones called your metatarsals are located. As you walk, your weight is transferred from your heel to the ball of your foot, and if the weight is unevenly transferred to the metatarsals and over the ball of your foot, pain and swelling of the area can occur.
Pains associated with the ball of your foot can include:
- Sharp, burning, or aching pains
- Pain that worsens when you are on your feet (standing, walking, or running) and gets better with rest
- Sharp pain or unusual sensation in your toes
Frequently, painful calluses may also occur in the skin of that area.
WHAT CAUSES BALL OF FOOT PAIN?
As we age, we generally lose the fat pad underneath the ball of the foot, causing abnormal pressure and shock to the area. Ball of foot pain, also known as metatarsalgia, can also be caused by:
- Certain foot abnormalities, such as hammertoes, which can cause incorrect pressure distribution and abnormal pressure to the ball of the foot
- Having high arches or having a second toe that’s longer than the big toe, which can put more weight on the ball of your foot
- An increase in high-impact activities such as running, jumping, or long periods of standing
- Arthritis or joint inflammation in your feet, such as with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis
- Wearing shoes that don’t fit well or provide adequate support.
- High heels, which transfer your weight onto the front of your foot, can lead to ball of foot pain.
- Shoes that are too tight can also compress your toes and cause pain.
- Athletic or walking shoes that don’t provide adequate support can put you at risk for ball of foot pain.
- Carrying excess weight, for people who are overweight
- Stress fractures in the metatarsal bones, that can change the way you put weight on your foot.
- Morton’s neuroma, a painful condition that affects the ball of your foot and involves the thickening of fibrous tissue around nerves between metatarsal bones
HOW TO HELP PREVENT BALL OF FOOT PAIN?
Obviously, staying off your feet just isn’t an answer to prevent a sore ball of foot. But there are steps you can take to help prevent pain or discomfort. For example:
- Try arch supports: insoles with cushioning and arch support can help minimize the stress on the balls of your feet. Explore Dr. Scholl’s Arch Support Solutions.
- Wear comfortable and supportive shoes: your shoes should provide cushioning and support for your feet. Shoes with a thicker sole and a wider set toe area can help by redistribute your weight effectively across your foot.
- Wear shoes built for the activity that you use them for. For example, use proper shoes when exercising to evenly distribute weight throughout your feet.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight can put unnecessary stress and pressure on your feet, and increase your risk of pain and inflammation.
HOW TO TREAT BALL OF FOOT PAIN?
If the balls of your feet already hurt, here are some tips to get relief:
- Rest: By reducing stress on the ball of your foot, you can prevent further injury. Replacing high-impact activities with low-impact exercises, such as cycling and swimming, may help your feet to recover.
- Apply ice: Apply several times a day for 20 minutes at a time.
- Wear comfortable, supportive shoes: choose a shoe that is supportive of your lifestyle and activity level.
- Avoid strenuous activity while your feet heal can also prevent development of further problems.
- Avoid wearing high heels until the pain goes away, as they can cause an abnormal shift of weight to the balls of your feet
- Use shock-absorbing insoles: these insoles can help to reduce shock and lessen pain. Try Dr. Scholl’s Orthotics for Ball Of Foot Pain.
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers, as needed
Book an appointment with your doctor if you experience burning pain that doesn’t get better after trying at-home ball of foot pain treatment remedies. These can include reducing your involvement in high-impact activities and switching to more supportive shoes.
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Related Symptoms & Conditions
Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat causes pain in ball of foot?
Metatarsalgia, commonly known as pain in the ball of the foot, can occur due to a number of reasons. The major cause of ball of foot pain is the uneven distribution of pressure on the ball of foot bones, leading to pain on specific areas of the ball of foot. There are specific factors that put people at an increased risk of metatarsalgia including:
High impact sports – People who engage in sports that involve a great deal of running and jumping are especially prone to ball of the foot pain due to pressure exerted on the forefoot.
Excess weight – People who are overweight are more prone to ball of foot pain because the extra weight puts additional pressure on the feet.
Arthritis – Certain types of arthritis such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout can cause joint inflammation and make people more vulnerable to pain in the ball of the foot.
Improperly fitted shoes – Shoes that are too tight or loose can contribute to ball of foot pain. Also, high heels have a tendency to distribute the weight to the forefoot, resulting in ball of foot pain.
Bunions – Because bunions occur when the joint at the base of the big toe becomes misaligned, the condition can cause increased uneven pressure on the ball of the foot, resulting in pain.
High arches – Feet that have high arches tend to experience extra pressure on the ball of the foot. This can lead to pain.
Long second toe – Ball of foot pain can be more common in those who have a second toe that is longer than the big toe.
Hammertoe – People who have hammertoe often experience extra uneven pressure and discomfort in the ball of the foot due to a bend in the middle joint of the toe.What causes pain in the ball of your foot?
Pain in the ball of the foot is most often caused by inflammation. The most common source of the inflammation is pressure from high impact activities such as jumping and running. However, other factors can contribute to pain such as conditions like hammertoe, bunions and high arches. Certain types of arthritis may make people more vulnerable to the issue. Ill-fitted shoes and high heels can also contribute to ball of foot pain. People who are overweight are also at an increased risk of experiencing pain in the ball of the foot.How to relieve ball of foot pain
There are a number of ways to reduce pain in the ball of the foot. While it’s not always easy to get rid of ball of foot pain, healthcare professionals usually recommend starting with lifestyle changes and conservative treatment options to address pain and inflammation. These include:
Comfortable shoes – Choose shoes that have good arch support and padding, a low heel and adequate room in the toe box. All of these features will help reduce pressure on the ball of the foot. Avoid going barefoot whenever possible.
Ice – In order to reduce inflammation and pain, it can be helpful to apply a covered ice pack to the ball of the foot several times a day for up to 20 minutes at a time.
Over-the-counter pain relievers – non-prescription NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen (sold under the brand name Advil and Motrin) and naproxen (sold under the brand name Aleve) can be very effective at reducing swelling and pain. Ask your healthcare provider if it’s OK for you to take these types of medication.
Callus reduction – If you have thick calluses on the ball of your foot, it may be helpful to gently exfoliate with a pumice stone or foot file. This can help reduce the callus and in turn, reduce some of the pressure that may be contributing to ball of foot pain. If you have diabetes, ask your doctor for advice before attempting to reduce a callus.
Rest – Stay off of your feet as much as you can in order to resolve the inflammation that’s causing the pain on the ball of the foot.
Orthotics and pads – Consider using orthotics, insoles, pads or cushions with your shoes in order to reduce pressure on the forefoot.
If you find that these more conservative measures aren’t effective at relieving your ball of foot pain, see your healthcare provider. Severe pain in the ball of the foot that persists may require stronger treatment options such as cortisone injections, prescription medication or even surgery in rare cases.What is pain in the ball of the foot?
Pain in the ball of the foot is called metatarsalgia. The pain is caused by inflammation, and it occurs under the bones that are located at the base of the toes.What shoes are best for ball of foot pain?
Properly fitted shoes with good arch support, padding and plenty of room in the toe box are best for reducing discomfort in the ball of the foot. It’s best to avoid high heels since they push your body weight forward, towards the forefoot, contributing to ball of foot pain.Can gout cause pain in ball of foot?
Yes, gout can cause pain in the ball of the foot. Because gout causes painful swelling in the joints, especially the big toe, pain in the ball of the foot can also occur.Can plantar fasciitis cause pain in ball of foot?
In severe cases of plantar fasciitis, the fascia can pull on connections to the metatarsals as well as at the heel, causing pain.How to relieve ball of foot pain when wearing heels
Orthotics, insoles, cushions and pads can be used when wearing heels in order to reduce pressure and to relieve pain in the ball of your foot. Be sure to choose a product that’s specifically designed for use with high heels. Try to limit your time wearing heels in order to minimize pain.What causes severe pain in ball of foot?
Severe pain in the ball of the foot should be evaluated by a doctor in order to determine the cause and devise a treatment plan. One of the most common causes of ball of foot pain is high impact sports that involve jumping and running. However, there are additional risk factors that can contribute to ball of foot pain including being overweight, certain foot abnormalities like hammertoe and bunions, specific types of arthritis and improperly fitted shoes.What is the pain in the ball of my foot?
If you have pain in the ball of your foot, it may be metatarsalgia, inflammation and pain that occurs just under the base of the toes. The condition causes pain on the bottom of the ball of the foot, between the arch and the toes.