Ball of Foot Pain

  • Limping out of bed in the morning? Walking barefoot causing pain?
  • Not comfortable in shoes?

Metatarsalgia is a general term used to denote a painful condition in the metatarsal region of the foot (commonly referred to as the ball-of-the-foot).

The “ball of the foot” includes a complex arrangement of, ligaments, muscles, nerves, joints, small arteries and veins – all of which are vulnerable to injury.

Common causes of pain in this area include:

  • Neuroma (an enlarged inflamed nerve).
  • Arthritis
  • Stress fracture
  • Plantar plate damage (a ligament running across the metatarsal heads)
  • Fracture
  • Capsulitis
  • Calluses and corns.

Other factors can cause excessive pressure in the ball-of-foot area that can result in metatarsalgia. These include excessive Pronation (feet rolling in at the ankles), shoes with heels that are too high or participating in sporting activities or dancing without proper footwear and/or orthotics. Also as we get older, the fat pad (fibro-fatty padding) in our foot tends to thin out (atrophy), making us much more likely to develop pain in the ball of the foot.


The first step is to identify the cause of the pain and nature of the condition. Once this is done, treatment may involve a number of modalities including supporting the transverse arch via orthotics, padding to deflect pressure away from the metatarsal heads, medication, ice, rest, footwear modification or advice.