What is a pain in the ball of the foot?

What is pain in ball of foot?

Do you have a forefoot pain that reduces your mobility or makes walking difficult? Learn more about what is a pain in the ball of your foot and what causes such metatarsalgia. Then, EPITACT® gives you advice about the different ways of relieving it.

Generally speaking, a plantar pain is located at the arch of the foot. However, a plantar pain refers to any pain affecting the sole of the foot, i.e. the inferior part of the foot in contact with the ground. So plantar pain can also affect the whole foot sole including the rearfoot, midfoot and forefoot. In this article, we will focus on what is a forefoot pain, or pain in the ball of the foot.


What is a pain in the ball of the foot called?

Pain in the ball of the foot, forefoot pain, metatarsal pain… All those ways of naming such a pain are synonyms of metatarsalgia. Indeed, the metatarsal bones are the five long bones that are before the toes. Therefore, metatarsalgia includes all the pains that affect this spot, either on top, on the sides or on the bottom of the metatarsals. They can affect the bones, the tendons, the nerves, the joints or any structure of the foot that is located in this area.

We’ve seen what is a metatarsalgia. Now let’s see what is a pain in the ball of the foot, a subtype of metatarsalgia.


Metatarsalgia: what is a pain in the ball of the foot?

The ball of the foot is the part under the forefoot just before the toes that is in contact with the ground. As it suffers many pressures all day long while walking, running, jumping or just standing for a long time, it may be the target of excessive stress and so much pain. If we just go into details, ball of the foot pain usually refers to pain at the metatarsal heads, which correspond to the end of the metatarsal bones that articulate with the first phalanx of the toes. As they are bony prominences, they are much more prone to pressure with the ground.

What are the main causes of ball of the foot pain?

To what is a pain in the ball of the foot related to? The symptoms of metatarsalgia and its causes are numerous and can be related to muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, tendons or even nerves!

To identify what is causing metatarsalgia, one must observe all of the symptoms carefully, such as any type of lesion, redness, bumps, swelling, or pain that occurs during movement or at rest. Different factors can be the source of the pain, like:

trauma: shock, wound, stress fractures or repeated rubbing may cause metatarsalgia;
deformity: hallux valgus, hammer or claw toes, fallen or hollow foot arch;
infection: plantar warts (papillomavirus infection) or fungal infections can also be painful;
inflammation: especially in the case of plantar fasciitis or tendinopathy;
the metatarsal head syndrome or
the Morton's neuroma;
joint diseases: lastly, diseases such as osteoarthritis or arthritis can be responsible for metatarsalgia.


Solutions to relieve plantar pain

Although the causes are different and treatments should be adapted to each person, the first thing to do is to protect the ball of the foot to relieve it.

The type of protection used changes according to the source of pain. In case of a burning sensation in the ball of the foot, a silicone interface is recommended to relieve pain. The EPITACT® metatarsal pads* aim to strengthen the plantar fat pad in order to reduce friction and to distribute the pressure better. If you have painful calluses on the ball of your foot, click here to discover how to remove it!

Other solutions can help you relieve your pain like losing weight (excess weight puts extra pressure on the ball of the foot) and wearing appropriate shoes. For example, avoid wearing high heels because they transfer the weight to the forefoot.


Now you know what is a pain on the ball of the foot, what is a metatarsalgia and how to relieve it. For more information about forefoot pain, discover our next articles!


*This solution is a class I medical device that bears the CE marking under this regulation. Carefully read the instructions before use. Manufacturer: Millet Innovation. 09/2021