Ball of the Foot Pain

We know some secrets about avoiding running injuries.

woman on tiptoes

Ball of the Foot Pain

What is ball of the foot pain?

Ball of the foot pain is one of the most common foot complaints in Australia. The pain can originate from a bone, joint, nerve, bursa (fluid-filled sac), muscle, tendon or ligament. Even thickened skin can cause significant discomfort. And it’s not uncommon for multiple structures to become injured at the same time. In many cases, the pain is most severe when pushing off while walking, running or jumping. Stair and ladder climbing also tend to aggravate pain in the ball of the foot.

What causes ball of the foot pain?

Common causes of overload and the subsequent development of pain in the ball of the foot include:

  • Standing for long periods of time

  • High-impact activities (e.g. running, lunging and jumping)

  • Foot structure (e.g. bunions, hammer toes, flat feet and high arch feet)

  • Foot function (e.g. not pushing off via the big toe joint properly)

  • Footwear that is too narrow and/or shallow

  • Footwear that is too high in the heel region

  • Tight calf muscles

  • Weak calf muscles

  • Medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout


ball of foot pain
ball of foot pain after running

Treatment for ball of the foot pain

The best short-term treatment for ball of the foot pain is to take it easy, apply ice to reduce pain, and wear your most comfortable shoes. Pain relief medication may also be helpful. If you can’t kick your ball of the foot pain, it’s time to see one of our experienced podiatrists. We’ll ask you some questions and examine the sore region to pinpoint the source of your pain. You may be referred for a scan (e.g. ultrasound) to confirm the provisional diagnosis. Your podiatrist will then be able to use treatment options such as padding or orthotics to take the pressure off the sore area and help you to address the causes of the injury.