Why Does the Ball of My Foot Hurt?


If you are experiencing severe pain in your toe bones or in the ball of your foot, especially when exercising or walking, it could be a sign of an inflammatory condition called metatarsalgia.

The five metatarsal bones are the long bones in your feet that extend from your midfoot to your toes. When the tendons and bones in this area are stressed over time by the repeated impact of walking and exercising, inflammation of the ligaments, tendons, and especially the thin covering on the bone can create a burning, painful sensation. The body’s response to this trauma sometimes results in the development of a large callus on the ball of your foot.

Participants in high-impact sports, including tennis and basketball, are at a higher risk of developing this injury, but less active individuals can also be afflicted.

What causes metatarsalgia (or metatarsal syndrome)?

Circumstances or conditions that can lead to metatarsal syndrome include the following:

●     Deformities - Patients with foot deformities such as high arches, hammertoes, and bunions are more likely to develop metatarsalgia.

●     Being overweight - Excess weight puts more of a burden on the ball of your foot when walking, and inflammation of the metatarsal area is more likely.

●     Weakened and inflexible toes - Maintain the strength and flexibility in your toes with exercises such as towel scrunching and marble picking, because if your toes are too tight or too weak, metatarsal inflammation is more likely to occur.

●     Osteoarthritis - Certain types of arthritis can contribute to metatarsal troubles.

●     Poorly fitted shoes - Be sure to choose footwear that is supportive yet roomy, with enough space for custom orthotic inserts that can help to address conditions such as overpronation which can contribute to the development of metatarsalgia.

Steps you can take to treat metatarsal inflammation include rest, ice, ibuprofen and losing weight if you are heavy. If the pain in the ball of your foot persists, see your foot care specialist for imaging studies to rule out a hairline fracture.

If you have pain in the ball of your foot, we highly recommend that you consult our board-certified podiatrists Andrew Shapiro, DPM and Michael Barkin, DPM. With access to advanced technologies, along with years of experience to help diagnose and treat a variety of foot and ankle problems, we can assist you with heel pain, ankle sprains, diabetic foot care, toe deformities, nail fungus, and skin problems, among many other conditions. Our practice is conveniently located on West Merrick Road in Valley Stream to accommodate all of your foot care needs. Call (516) 825-3860 or book an appointment online today!