Common Causes of Pain in the Balls of Your Feet

Your feet have an important job. They help you walk and carry your entire body weight. By the time you go to bed at night, your feet have carried a few hundred tons of weight all day long.

With all the stress and pressure your feet take on, you’ve probably experienced some aches and pains — sometimes in the ball of your foot. At Wiregrass Podiatry, with offices in Enterprise and Dothan, Alabama, podiatrists Jennifer Decker, DPM, and Lincoln V. Lowe, DPM, are here to explain some common causes of pain in the balls of your feet, and when you should see a doctor.

Understanding Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia is the medical term for pain in the ball of your foot. It’s a common injury that usually isn’t serious, but may bring you pain and inflammation. Some symptoms of metatarsalgia include:

  • Sharp pain in the area just behind your toes
  • Pain that gets worse when you stand or activate foot muscles
  • Numbness
  • Tingling in your toes
  • The sensation of having a pebble in your shoe

Most people encounter metatarsalgia and other foot pain at some point in their life. Here are some of the most common reasons you may have pain in the ball of your foot.

Intense physical activity

Most athletes have the risk of getting metatarsalgia. The intense impact of heavy weight being imposed on the front of your foot is common in many sports, especially those with distance running and jumping. Track and field runners have the highest risk of accruing a forefoot injury, with other athletes in sports like tennis, soccer, and football close behind.

Wearing too tight shoes may cause you to disperse weight on your feet unevenly and throw off your balance. To help minimize foot pain, always opt for comfortable sports shoes that have a half to a full thumb’s width of space around the toes.

Foot genetics

You can’t control your genetics, but they may be causing your metatarsalgia. If your feet have a high arch, it places extra stress on your foot bones which can create pain. Similarly, having a second toe that’s longer than your big toe may cause you to put more weight on certain foot bones.

Excess pounds

Since your feet lift the entire weight of your body, carrying extra pounds can add more pressure to them. Most of your weight is shifted to your forefoot every time your move, leading to a heavier amount of stress being placed on your foot bones.

Shedding some extra pounds can keep your feet from being overworked and inflamed. Not to mention, losing weight also lowers your risk of life-threatening conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Improper shoes

Wearing high heels may be a fashion statement, but chances are they cause your feet a lot of agony. Years of wearing high heels can cause many different foot problems like bunions and hammertoe, which may require surgery to correct. In addition to causing foot problems, wearing high heels can create poor posture and back pain.

Even flat shoes can cause pain in the ball of your foot. As previously mentioned, always buy proper-fitting shoes with extra space for your toes. Shoes with a narrow toe space may also cause problems, so it’s best to always size up if you like this style of shoes. If your shoes don’t have padded soles, you can buy orthopedic inserts to give your feet the cushion they need.


When your feet hurt, it often plummets your mood and affects your entire day. When you’re experiencing foot pain, it limits your mobility and brings your activity level to a halt.

At-home treatments relieve many forms of pain in the ball of your foot. Ice your foot and wrap it in a compression bandage to provide comfort. Rest and stay off your feet for at least 24 hours.

You don’t have to consult your doctor for every form of foot pain. But if your metatarsalgia doesn’t get better with at-home treatment in 3-4 days, call the Wiregrass Podiatry office most convenient for you or schedule your appointment using our online booking tool. Let us help put an end to your metatarsalgia.

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