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What Could be Bothering the Ball of Your Foot?

What Could be Bothering the Ball of Your Foot?

The balls of your feet are like unsung heroes – they help you push off when you step, stand on your tippy toes, jump, and more, but they’re never paid much attention. Of course, all that changes when they start hurting and hindering you from doing things you enjoy!

Pain in the balls of your feet can result from a number of causes, but the two main culprits are metatarsalgia and Morton’s neuroma — which each have numerous causes of their own.


The long bones in your feet that attach to your toes are called metatarsals, and when the ends of these bones become aggravated and inflamed, ball of foot pain ensues! What’s behind this irritation?

  • Repetitive stress, from running a lot of miles, for example, can irritate and even crack your metatarsal bones.
  • Excessive weight. Feet are carrying your body weight already, and extra weight can cause extra stress.
  • Toe deformities. If you have a bunion, or claw or hammertoes, this misalignment of joints and imbalance of muscle can put pressure on your metatarsal.
  • High-heeled shoes. This style of footwear forces your foot in a position that places all your weight on the balls of your feet — no wonder they hurt!
  • Arthritis. Swelling and stiffness of the joints between your toes and metatarsals can result in pain.
  • Diabetes. This condition is often associated with nerve damage in the feet which may cause symptoms of pain, tingling, numbness, and burning. Guess what else has similar symptoms? Morton’s neuroma!

Morton’s neuroma

This occurs when a nerve that runs between the metatarsal bones becomes thickened due to irritation. The result is numbness, tingling, burning, and pain in the ball of your foot, most often (but not always) affecting the area between the third and fourth toes.

Metatarsalgia and Morton’s neuroma are often found together, but can luckily be treated conservatively, with rest, a switch to roomier, lower-heeled shoes, orthotics, and breaking up activities with low-impact options like swimming and yoga. If these methods fail to provide relief, nerve decompression surgery may need to be considered. If you are struggling with ball of foot pain, call our Bloomington, IN office for an appointment today by dialing (812) 333-4422. We can get you the help you need!

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