Ball of the Foot Pain

By: Ehren Allen, PT, Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist

Image of a foot while walking


What Causes Pain in the Ball of the Foot?


Pain in the ball of the foot can be mild to severely painful.  There are several causes which may be addressed in different ways.  First, consider the anatomy of the foot.  The ball of the foot is the area where the toes attach to the foot.  These are the heads of metatarsal bones.  There are 5 metatarsal bones in which run from the mid foot to the toes.  They help form the arches of the feet and help support the weight of the body during walking and standing activity.  


Image of the foot bones


When wearing shoes that are tight around the foot, the foot bones can be pressed together.  There are nerves between the bones which can become irritated and cause pain.  This is called metatarsalgia.
A painful nerve bundle can also develop between the foot bones.  This is called a Morton’s Neuroma.  This can become irritated with tight shoes as well.  


There are also tiny bones under the ball of the foot at the 1st toe called sesamoid bones.  These bones help to give a better angle for the foot ligaments and tendons under the toes.  The sesamoid bones can become injured or fractured.  This can cause severe pain in the ball of the foot with standing and walking.  


The Plantar Fascia can cause pain in the ball of the foot but usually causes pain in the heel region.  The plantar fascia runs from the heel (calcaneous) to the great toe.  To learn more about Plantar Fasciitis, check out this link.

Bunions can cause pain in the ball of the foot.  A bunion is the bony point the protrudes at the great toe on the inside on of the foot.  It is a deformity of the joint where the foot meets the great toe.  It can come form wearing tight shoes or heels.  Severe cases may require surgery to correct the issue.


If you would like to learn more about the anatomy of the foot, this video can help.


How do you Relieve Pain on the Ball of the Foot or Metatarsalgia?

Here are some options to help relieve pain in the ball of the foot.

  • Ice
  • looser shoes
  • pads or inserts under the balls or the foot
  • stretching for the calf muscles


How long Does it take for Pain in the Ball of the Foot to go Away?


Pain in the ball of the foot can go away quickly for some folks.  It depends on the severity.  Being overweight may affect the amount of force on the foot and impact the time of healing.  This can also lead pain in the arch. Resting the foot initially can help it improve faster.  

Compliance with the treatment options listed above can help to speed the healing process.

JOI Physicians and JOI Rehab are now offering ASAP appointments and Telemedicine Services

If you have a painful ball of the foot that will not improve, the Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute can help.  With world class physicians and therapists, JOI has the expertise to get you back your life!  Come see us!

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