Mild to intense pain in ball of foot is a symptom of Metatarsalgia, a condition affecting the long bones (Metatarsals) of your foot.

Metatarsalgia is a general medical term to describe pain in the ball-of-foot area. It comes from the name of the bones that are in this part of the foot called Metatarsals. These are the long bones at the base of each toe. Pain in ball of foot can be a symptom of pressure on the ends of these bones.

What are the symptoms?

Generally you will have pain in ball of foot. This might feel like you're walking on pebbles and it becomes more painful when walking or taking part in sports and other activities where your foot takes impact. You may also find it uncomfortable wearing shoes and socks.

What are the causes?

There are a number of causes that can contribute to pain in ball of foot. The most common cause is excessive pressure on the forefoot.

Here are some factors that may cause excessive pressure:

  • High level of activity
  • Enlarged metatarsal heads
  • Tight toe extensors
  • Weak toe flexors
  • Tight Achilles tendon

Other causes are:

  • Arthritis or degenerative disease of the joints
  • Diabetes, which can cause nerve-type pain in the foot
  • Calluses or skin lesions that cause you to shift your weight and become unevenly distributed across your foot
  • Aging, which tends to thin out or shift the fatty tissue of the foot pad
  • Badly fitting shoes or shoes with small toe boxes that cramp your toes

Relief for pain in ball of foot

Fortunately, conservative treatments such as ice, plenty of rest and recovery can go a long way to relieving pain in ball of foot.

Here are a few suggestions to help alleviate the discomfort:

  • Ensure you're wearing proper fitting shoes that don't place undue stress on your feet.

  • Use special arch supports (orthotics) or shoe inserts to help spread your weight more equally across the entire bottom of the foot. Insoles also provide stability to prevent abnormal collapsing of the arch.

  • Add metatarsal pads to your shoes to help spread the weight.

If more support and cushioning doesn't help see a podiatrist for further treatment.