What can cause pain in the ball of the foot?

Pain in the ball of the foot, also known as metatarsalgia, can have various causes. Here are some common factors that can contribute to pain in this area:

  1. Metatarsal stress fractures: These small breaks in the long bones of the foot, known as metatarsals, can result from overuse or repetitive stress on the foot. They often cause localized pain in the ball of the foot.
  2. Morton’s neuroma: This condition involves the thickening of the tissue around the nerve leading to the toes, usually between the third and fourth metatarsal bones. It can cause sharp, burning pain in the ball of the foot, along with a sensation of a lump or a foreign object under the foot.
  3. Metatarsophalangeal joint dysfunction: Dysfunction or inflammation of the joints connecting the metatarsal bones to the toes can lead to pain in the ball of the foot. It may be caused by conditions such as arthritis or excessive pressure on the joints.
  4. Plantar plate tear: The plantar plate is a thick ligament-like structure that supports the metatarsophalangeal joints. When it tears or becomes inflamed, it can result in pain and instability in the ball of the foot.
  5. Sesamoiditis: The sesamoid bones are small bones beneath the first metatarsal joint in the ball of the foot. Overuse or repetitive stress can lead to inflammation or injury to these bones, causing pain.
  6. Capsulitis: The joint capsules surrounding the metatarsophalangeal joints can become inflamed, leading to pain and discomfort in the ball of the foot. It is often caused by excessive pressure or repetitive stress.
  7. Freiberg’s disease: This condition involves the loss of blood flow to the metatarsal head, leading to a collapse of the bone and subsequent pain in the ball of the foot. It is more commonly seen in the second or third metatarsal.
  8. Excessive pressure or high-impact activities: Activities that involve running, jumping, or prolonged standing can place excessive pressure on the ball of the foot, leading to pain and discomfort.

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment if you are experiencing pain in the ball of your foot or have metatarsalgia. They can evaluate your symptoms, conduct a physical examination, and recommend specific interventions based on the underlying cause.

Peter is a Podiatrist in Miami with a passion for the profession and sharing foot health information.