The Facts On Pain In The Ball Of Your Foot:

What is Ball of Foot Pain?

Internal xray image of foot indicating  pain in the ball of the foot. 

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


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.


image of closeup shot of woman grabbing her feet


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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