Why Does the Ball of My Foot Hurt?

Foot pain of any kind can make it hard for you to manage your day-to-day activities. The ball of your foot forms the connection between your foot bones and toe bones and helps the heel-to-toe mechanics needed for walking, running, jumping, and climbing.

Pain in the ball of your foot may affect your gait and biomechanics and leave you wondering: why does the ball of your foot hurt? Well, there are many answers to that question.

Our board-certified podiatrist, Dr. Francine Rhinehart, specializes in finding and treating the underlying cause of ball of foot pain, also known as metatarsalgia. 

Here, our podiatrist at Francine Rhinehart, DPM wants to share with you some of the reasons why you may have pain in this part of your foot. 

High-impact activities

When you run and jump, the ball of your foot absorbs much of the shock when your foot hits the ground. Over time, these activities may sprain or strain the soft tissue in this part of your foot, causing inflammation, swelling, bruising, and pain. 

Though anyone can develop ball of foot pain from overuse, athletes are especially prone to this type of pain, especially if they wear shoes that don’t provide enough support. 

Carrying extra body weight may also place undue stress on the ball of your feet, leading to inflammation and pain of the soft tissue. 

Foot problems

There are many foot problems that affect the forefoot, which is the front portion of your foot (toes and ball of the foot). Foot deformities, such as hammertoes and bunions, may change your gait and increase stress and pressure on the forefoot, leading to pain in the ball of your foot.

Toe arthritis may also cause you to favor the ball or heel of your foot when walking, increasing your risk of developing metatarsalgia. Tight tendons, including the tendons in the toe, foot, or calf, may also cause this type of foot pain.

Having a high arch increases pressure on the toes and ball of your feet, which can lead to inflammation and pain over time. Similarly, having a second toe that extends further out than the big toe changes weight distribution when walking, shifting much of the weight-bearing to your second toe, and the soft tissue below it.  

Nerve pain

If it feels like you have a pebble stuck between your third and fourth toe, you may have Morton’s neuroma. Morton’s neuroma is a common cause of pain in the ball of the foot and develops from a thickening of the soft tissue that surrounds the nerve that travels to your toes.

The thickened tissue compresses the nerve, causing a burning or numbing sensation that extends into your toes. 

Not wearing the right shoes

The type of shoes you wear may also be the underlying cause of your ball of foot pain. High heels, for example, increases pressure on the soft tissue in the forefoot, causing inflammation and pain. Shoes with a heel and small toe box may further exacerbate the stress and pain. 

The pain in your foot may also develop if you wear shoes that are too tight or too loose. Tight shoes squeeze the foot, stressing the structures in the forefoot. Loose shoes, on the other hand, alter your gait, affecting weight distribution that stresses the ball and toes of your feet. 

The pain you feel in the ball of your foot may be from many causes. In most cases, a change in footwear or the use of shoe inserts may be all you need to fix your pain condition. Ignoring the problem, however, may make things worse and require more invasive treatments.

Let us help you get relief from your ball of foot pain. Call our office in Dallas, Texas, or book an appointment online today. 

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