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Ball of Foot Pain - Causes and Treatments

Is the Ball of Your Foot Hurting? Let Us Help Take Away the Pain.

When you go for a walk, stand, or run do you feel pain on the soles of your feet right behind your toes? Pain in the ball of your foot is more common than you might think, but the good news is that it is easy to treat.

Our feet have a lot of structures in them (bones, joints, muscles, nerves, etc.) and when they are put under stress, they can become very painful. An umbrella term that is used as a diagnosis for ball of foot pain is metatarsalgia. The most common areas that become painful in the ball of the foot include under the big toe, under or on top of the 2nd toe, pain between the 3rd and 4th toes, and pain resulting from corns or calluses under any part of the ball of the foot.

Symptoms of Metatarsalgia

Symptom of ball of foot pain may come on gradually or develop suddenly. Common symptoms include:

  • Aching, burning, or sharp pain in the ball of your foot, often right behind the toes.
  • Pain that becomes more intense with standing, running, or walking.
  • Pain that radiates from your feet into your toes.
  • Tingling or numbness of the toes.
  • Sensations in your feet that feels like a pebble is in your shoe.

Causes of Ball of Foot Pain

Although, like most other foot conditions, there are many causes of ball of foot pain, often metatarsalgia is the result of several contributing factors including the following:

  • Over-activity – High impact sports or extensive training, especially running, put abnormally large amounts of stress on the balls of the feet which can result in inflammation, irritation, and pain.
  • Foot Disorders – Other foot conditions such as high arches, bunions, hammer toes, Morton’s neuromas, and stress fractures can all trigger pain in the ball of the foot.
  • Ill-fitting Footwear – Shoes that don’t fit well and have adequate padding, especially high heels and shoes with narrow toes, can contribute to metatarsal issues.
  • Excess Weight – Being overweight increases the pressure placed on your metatarsals.
  • Aging – As we age the fat pads on our feet thin out which diminishes the metatarsal bones ability to protect themselves.

Pain in the ball of the foot is typically not serious but can be extremely painful and disrupt your daily activity, especially if it is left untreated. Leaving the pain untreated often causes a person to adjust their gait and can result in foot, hip, and back pain.

Treating Pain in the Ball of the Foot

In most situations conservative treatments will resolve ball of foot pain. Here are a few methods that may help alleviate some of the pain:

  • Rest Your Feet – This type of pain is often the result of high impact exercises which puts too much pressure on the forefoot. Take a break from high impact exercise and put your feet up as soon as you start noticing symptoms.
  • Give Strengthening Exercises a Try – If you are trying to prevent metatarsalgia, considering exercising your feet. Strengthen your arches by grabbing a marble with your toes or scrunch up a towel using your toes.
  • Swap Out Your Shoes – If you frequently notice the pain when you are wearing certain shoes, consider wearing a different pair of shoes. Frequently wearing high heels or stilettos can really aggravate pain in the ball of your feet. Try trading them out with a stylish pair of block-heeled shoes, ballet flats, or a light-weight platform shoe. Keep in mind too that even the most supportive pair of shoes will wear out over time. Replace your shoes if they are starting to cause pain in your feet.
  • Ice, Ice, Ice – This is the perfect way to soothe the inflammation in your feet. Wrap an ice pack in a towel and massage your foot a few times a day.
  • Over-the-Counter Pain Relief – You won’t want to use this long-term, but taking ibuprofen, if your doctor approves it, can offer temporary relief by reducing the inflammation.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight – Obesity is one of the risk factors for ball of foot pain. Try to stay at a healthy weight or drop a few pounds if you are overweight.
  • Try Gel Pads – Metatarsal pads can be a huge relief if you are suffering from metatarsalgia. ZenToes offers a variety of gel pads to help with the discomfort. We have cushions that adhere to your shoes, your feet, and even sleeves that contain comfortable gel cushions that can be washed and reused. All of these options act as shock absorbers that help reduce the pressure on the ball of your foot.
  • Treat Calluses and Bunions – Many times other foot conditions are to blame for pain in the ball of the foot. If you are suffering from bunions or calluses, we have products that will help treat those conditions too.

Regardless of what is causing your ball of foot pain, we know that you want it to stop so you can keep on moving. Pain shouldn’t be a part of your daily routine, and with ZenToes products it doesn’t have to be.


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