Ball of the Foot Pain

By: Ehren Allen, PT, Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist

What Causes Pain in the Ball of the Foot?

Pain in the ball of the foot can be mild to severely painful.  This pain is often described as a pain in the ball of the foot under the big toe.X-ray of human foot on treadmill with ball of foot pain. JOI RehabImage of a foot while walking
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.  

Illustration of the human foot anatomy showing foot bones. JOI RehabImage 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.  

Sesamoiditis or Pain in Hard Balls of the Feet

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.  Inflammation of the sesamoid can also lead to a more chronic condition of sesamoiditis. 

Plantar Fasciitis

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, please watch this video by Dr. Vosseller.   

Dr. Vosseller is an Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Specialist at the JOI San Marco location. 

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.

Laser Treatment for ball of the foot pain. JOI RehabLaser Treatment at JOI Rehab for Plantar Fasciitis

If you would like to learn more about the anatomy of the foot, this VIDEO can help or you can read this article on Plantar Fasciitis.

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 and JOI Rehab

JOI Physicians continue to offer online new patient appointments. This is another option to make it more convenient to make new patient appointments with less phone hold times. Follow the link below to select your JOI MD and schedule online.

You can still call 904-JOI-2000 to make new patient JOI Physician Appointments if that is your preference.

To make appointments with JOI Rehab, please call 904-858-7045.



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