What are the Most Common Causes of Pain in the Ball of the Foot?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 22 December 2019
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Foot pain may be felt anywhere in the foot, toes or the ankle and may be caused by a variety of issues, but pain in the ball of the foot is most often caused by a foot injury or by the presence of a neuroma. Such pain may also be caused by metatarsalgia, particularly in individuals who are physically active. Metatarsalgia may also cause pain in the ball of the foot in individuals who wear shoes that are too tight, which is common in women who wear high heeled shoes.

Injuries that can cause pain in the ball of the foot may include a broken bone, gout or arthritis. A bunion may also cause pain in the foot. Commonly, foot pain is also caused by calluses that form as a result of skin that has thickened due to persistent pressure in that area or due to friction from the continuous wear of ill-fitting shoes.

Morton’s neuroma may also cause pain in the ball of the foot. This is caused by a swelling of the tissue around the nerve in that area. Other symptoms that may accompany pain in the ball of the foot caused by a neuroma include a tingling sensation and pain in the toes. This condition is more common in women than it is in men due to women wearing high heeled shoes or shoes that significantly narrow in the toe area and add pressure to the toes.


Pain in the ball of the foot caused by Morton’s neuroma may also lead to metatarsalgia. The five bones between the foot’s arch and the toe joints are referred to as the metatarsal bones. When these bones experience an improper distribution of weight, pain and inflammation ensue. This most commonly occurs in runners and other athletes, but can also be caused by a condition known as hammertoe or may be caused by bunions or obesity. High heeled shoes and a second toe that extends longer than the great toe may also contribute to metatarsalgia.

Foot cramps followed by pain in the ball of the foot are often the sign of wearing shoes that are too tight. While continued wear may lead to more severe foot conditions, this type of pain is easily remedied by resting the feet and wearing better fitting shoes. Particular effort should be made to only wear shoes that give ample room around the great toe, as well as adequate space around the ball of the foot.



Discuss this Article

Post 3

@Sporkasia - Do you have hammer toe, or a history of hammer toe in your family. This condition usually gets worse as you get older. It's common in my family, and your foot complaints could be caused by hammer toe. I have pain in the ball of my foot when walking, and wearing wider shoes and shoe inserts helps stop the pain and swelling. You should try the inserts and see if your feet feel any better. You have nothing to lose.

Post 2

@Sporkasia - This article mentions that foot pain in the ball of the foot is sometimes caused by gout, and the symptoms you mentioned sound a lot like gout. I have both an aunt and an uncle who have gout. They both have serious flare ups from time to time and they have pain in their big tones, swelling and pain around the balls of their feet.

Gout can be difficult to figure out, but you should keep a record of when the pain is worse. If it is gout then there is a good chance that you will notice the pain most after you eat certain foods.

Post 1

I'm having foot pain and swelling around the ball of my right foot. I also have pain in my toes, mostly my big toe. I went to the doctor and he has been unable to figure out what is going on with my foot. I play tennis regularly, and I have played since I was a kid.

Anyone who plays tennis knows that the courts and all the running and standing can be very difficult on your feet. Since the doctors haven't been able to give me any definite cause for the pain in the ball of my foot and toes, I think it might be arthritis. Has anyone else had similar symptoms and figured out the cause?

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