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Why Does the Ball of My Foot Hurt?

If you are experiencing sharp pain in the ball of your foot, you may be suffering from a condition called metatarsalgia. This is a nerve disorder that strikes when a nerve running between your metatarsal bones (the long bones that extend down the middle of your foot from your toes to your ankles) becomes irritated and swollen.


Symptoms of metatarsalgia may include:

Distinct, aching or burning pain in the ball of your foot, which is the part of your sole right behind your big toe

Pain that increases during activity, and decreases when you are resting

Shooting pain, tingling, and numbness in your toes

A feeling that you have a rock or pebble in your shoe


Although a single problem can lead to metatarsalgia, more often than not, several factors are involved. Some of these include the following:

Stress fractures. Hairline breaks in the metatarsal bones or bones in the toes and cause great pain, and also alter the way you use your foot for weight bearing

Foot deformities such as hammertoes and bunions. Wearing tight fitting shoes or high heels can cause your foot to become misshapen. These deformities can lead to metatarsalgia.

Too much training or over activity. Since the front of the foot absorbs so much pressure during activities like long distance running or other high impact sports, there is an increased risk of developing metatarsalgia.

Flat feet. A high arch increases pressure on the metatarsals.

Being overweight. Since the majority of your weight is absorbed by the ball of your foot when you move, losing those extra pounds will take some of the pressure off your metatarsal bones, minimizing or completely eliminating symptoms.

A variety of conditions have symptoms similar to metatarsalgia, so it is important to see your foot specialist for a proper diagnosis.


Usually, conservative treatments will relieve your pain and discomfort. These include resting, wearing more comfortable and supportive shoes, or using inserts such as a metatarsal pad. If your metatarsalgia is accompanied by other foot problems such as hammertoe, surgery may be necessary to realign the metatarsal and toe bones.


The podiatrists at Foot Health Podiatry, PLLC, in New York City, NY, are experts in providing the best care for any problems you may be experiencing with your feet and ankles. Sorelis Jimenez, DPM, John W. Fletcher, DPM, and Kamilla Danilova, DPM and the rest of the staff at Foot Health Podiatry, PLLC, are happy to help with any questions or concerns you may have. Check out our Ask The Doctor page for answers to frequently asked questions, and never hesitate to give us a call to talk or make an appointment at 212-845-9991.

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