What causes ball of the foot pain?

What causes ball of foot pain?

What causes pain in the ball of the foot can be of several origins. Also called metatarsalgia, the causes of forefoot pain are related to physiological, mechanical or pathological problems. Let’s discover the main causes of ball of foot pain and the EPITACT® solution for it.


What are the main causes of metatarsalgia?

As we've said, there are many types of foot pain. While walking, the forefoot is particularly used since it is in contact and presses the ground under high pressures. Consequently, multiple causes lead to more or less intense pain, tolerable or very disabling in daily life.

There are many types of foot pain. However, the ball of the foot is particularly subject to stress and pressure with the ground when standing or walking. But what causes pain in the ball of the foot can be related to many mechanisms, not just overuse. The main causes of metatarsalgia are:


Walking for a long time involves excessive use of the plantar surface causing ball of foot pain. Indeed, the foot is made of what is called the plantar fat pad, which absorbs shocks between the foot and the ground. This fat pad is a kind of fatty tissue that covers the bottom surface of the foot to cushion and distribute loads. Inevitably, a prolonged use weakens this distributor of pressures and pain progressively takes place.

Excessive pressure 

Overpressure on the feet is a major cause of ball of the foot pain. Indeed, the plantar fat pad can suffer excessive and prolonged pressure at the ball of the foot, especially under the metatarsal heads. For example, sports that involve jumps or repeated steps (running, tennis...) increase the risk of causing ball of foot pain. Overweight can also cause forefoot pain, as well as wearing high heels. Indeed, the body weight is transferred to the forefoot which then bears more weight.

First ray insufficiency

Poor support of the first metatarsal (long bone before the big toe), which is often associated with a bunion, is a cause of metatarsalgia. This process is called first ray insufficiency. Note that an excessive length of the metatarsal bone is another cause of ball of the foot pain.

Abnormality of tendons and muscles

For example, contracture of the Achilles tendon remotely causes pain in the ball of the foot.

Claw toe deformity

Claw toes, hammer toes and mallet toes are lesser toe deformities in which the toes are curved and no longer lie flat on the ground. As a consequence, the toes no longer play their role and the load they initially supported is transferred to the ball of the foot.


Age is another cause of metatarsalgia. Indeed, age leads to progressive and normal wear of the plantar fat pad. Over time, it atrophies and absorbs less shocks and pressure with the ground.

Inappropriate shoes

Wearing shoes with a quality insole that cushions your forefoot also limits the risk of causing ball of foot pain

Unfortunately, there are other causes of forefoot pain... Indeed, further factors can play a role in their appearance.


Additional causes of pain in the ball of the foot

Other foot conditions can indirectly cause metatarsalgia. The most frequent ones are:

- calluses;
- hallux valgus or bunion;
- flat or hollow feet;
- rheumatoid arthritis;
- Morton’s neuroma;
- plantar warts.

The list is long, here are the main causes of metatarsalgia under the forefoot. Because these causes result from daily activities, it is important to find fast and effective solutions to face them. Once you've identified what causes you pain in the ball of your foot, get information to prevent and treat them. Discover our article 'How to relieve ball of foot pain & calluses'.


Are there solutions for the causes of ball of foot pain?

Simple solutions exist to prevent and relieve your ball of foot pain. Among them, avoid wearing inappropriate, tight, narrow or high heeled shoes. Prefer shoes with a wide toe box that provide foot arch support or wear orthopaedic insoles in case of structural disorder of your foot (flat feet for example). Also, you can regularly apply a moisturising cream to prevent the formation of calluses, which can cause pain in the ball of the foot.

Lastly, an EPITACT® protection is available for people looking for comfortable and daily solutions. Discover the metatarsal pads* that distribute the pressure and avoid frictions. You can wear them on a daily basis to soothe your ball of foot pain.


What causes ball of the foot pain? How to relieve it? Now that we have answered these questions, you can learn more about the ways of removing a callus on your feet.


*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. 04/2022