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Pain in the ball of the foot


22 October 2018, 11:40 a.m.

Actually, it's no wonder that our balls of foot keep hurting! The whole body weight rests on the feet! They are our shock absorbers, they carry us through everyday life, they are squeezed into too tight and pointed shoes and they constantly move us away. In addition, they are very finely structured, surrounded by little fat pads and thus exposed to increased risk of overloading or trauma (fracture, torn ligaments).

Pain in the ball of the foot can have various causes and symptoms. It can be that the ball of the foot suddenly hurts because a nerve is compressed (Morton neuromus, tarsal tunnel syndrome, Baxter nerve), or it hurts rather in the morning because there is arthrosis in the ball of the foot or simply because of general overuse. Of course, foot malpositions such as hallux valgus also provoke pain in the ball of the foot.


Do your feet suffer from trauma, fatigue fractures or inflammatory processes?

Find out more about how you can relieve pain in the ball of your foot here!

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Please have acute pain and effusions clarified if:

  • severe pain persists unchanged for
              than 3 days
  • severe swelling and bruising
              are present
  • there is an acute trauma

Quick relief


If we divide the foot into forefoot, midfoot and heel area, then the ball of the foot is in the forefoot area. When we stand on our toes, we stand directly on it. The ball of the foot is covered with small fat pads. Since it is exposed to a great deal of stress, pain in the ball of the foot is nothing unusual.

Our tip:

Cool quark compresses and foot exercises!

Or gently knead the foot, stroke the toes or circle the painful ball of the foot on a massage ball.

Do you have pain in the ball of your foot?

With our home remedies, exercises and other tips, you can get rid of it in no time!

Read more

Reasons for pain in the ball of the foot


Dear patient, unfortunately the causes for pain at the ball of the foot are manifold!

They can be triggered by:

  • Incorrect loading, too little foot strength
  • trauma, fatigue fracture
  • inflammatory processes
  • gout, diabetes
  • degenerative processes
  • nerve pain, also due to intervertebral disc problems
  • Deformities of the foot and bad footwear
  • necroses


The attending physician can make an exact diagnosis by palpation and imaging procedures. In general, it can be said that in the western world a lot of emphasis is placed on shoe fashion. Although it has a negative effect on the development of the feet and foot muscles, many people wear shoes that are too tight, unnaturally shaped and high. Pain in the ball of the foot and in the foot often find their origin here. Find the right shoes for you now that will send your pain in the ball of your foot to the desert!

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5 effective ways to relieve pain in the ball of the foot

Further incorrect stresses:


These can be, for example, a footbed that is too strong, foot muscles that are too weak, connective tissue that is too weak or a ligamentous apparatus that is too weak. But even seemingly harmless malpositions, such as a lowered footbed or high or tight shoes, do the rest.

Incorrect loading


Too much support can also hurt

Shoes with a strong footbed relieve muscles and tendons of their important tasks. This weakens the foot muscles for years. It is no longer trained and can no longer counteract external influences. The foot muscles can then neither stabilize the arch of the foot nor stop the bony shifts. Foot structures can change bit by bit and are thus systematically misloaded.

Harmful strength training for the feet - too much, too long, too heavy

Excess weight can also lead to the muscles no longer being able to exert enough force and to a shift in foot statics. In addition to a gradual incorrect load due to changes in the foot, an acute incorrect load can of course also lead to pain in the ball of the foot. A long hike, a strenuous jog and long periods of standing or dancing on heels can provoke annoying foot pain. Incorrect weight-bearing can also cause blisters, calluses and pressure sores to develop, which can cause very unpleasant ball-of-foot pain.

Would you like to find out more about the causes of malpositions?

Here it goes directly to the article - Causes of Halux valgus!


Trauma, fatigue fracture and inflammatory processes


Ouch! Traumata and fatigue fracture cause pain in the ball of the foot

Pain in the ball of the foot is often caused by trauma or fatigue fractures. Jumps from medium heights, long endurance units or accidents are the causes. The diagnosis is made quickly with imaging procedures and the pain can be treated well.

Inflammatory processes

Inflammatory processes such as gout can cause severe pain in the ball of the foot. Inflammations of the tendons, bursitis, inflammatory processes in the muscle or joint can also lead to unpleasant discomfort. Inflammations can be caused postoperatively by wound healing disorders, but also by infections, skin diseases or rheumatic and arthritic diseases. In principle, everything is connected here: Inflammations have a wide variety of causes, be it incorrect loading, hallux valgus or arthrosis in the ball of the foot. If the foot muscles weaken as a result, bone displacement can be triggered, which in turn promotes bursitis or tendonitis.

ATTENTION: Pain in the ball of the foot caused by inflammatory processes is often accompanied by swelling, redness and heat.

Degenerative processes


Closure of the body

Degenerative processes are usually triggered by trauma, malpositions such as hallux valgus or normal wear and tear of the joints. Degenerative processes include arthrosis, wear and tear of the cartilage with a reduction in sliding fluid so that the joints rub against each other rough. Arthrosis of the tarsus is very unpleasant. In the initial stage, mobilisation and movement of the feet can stimulate fluid production and reduce pain. Unfortunately, this is no longer possible after a certain degree of arthrosis.

Perhaps you have heard of Hallux rigidus before?

This is, for example, arthrosis in the base joint of the big toe. Further causes for degenerative processes can be instabilities of the tarsal joints, they can also cause degenerative changes and pain at the ball of the foot. The foot is very complex and has a delicate structure, so that injuries to the smallest joints can easily be overlooked. Especially the tarsometatarsal joints should not be forgotten in case of severe foot pain.

Learn more about the stiff big toe

- hallux rigidus - and what you can do about it to avoid pain in the ball of your foot.

Learn more

Nerve pain in the ball of the foot


Nerve pain can be caused both by pinched nerves, irritation of the nerve root in the foot itself and by problems in the back.


If intervertebral disc material emerges from the disc, it often flows into the spinal canal. This in turn accommodates many nerve pathways. If the intervertebral disc material now presses a nerve, it can be that pain, sensory disturbances or numbness appear in the foot and pain develops in the ball of the foot as a result. A stabbing, burning pain or feelings of numbness can be an indication of a nerval cause.

Other nerve-racking causes

If a nerve of the sole of the foot is pinched and causes pain in the ball of the foot, Morton Neuromas may be present. Here the nerve sheath and thus the nerve is pressed in by proliferated connective tissue and then sends pain signals to the brain. Further nerve pain can trigger the tarsal tunnel syndrome or a Baxter nerve, in both cases trapped nerves are the cause. High, tight boots, ski boots and hiking boots can intensify the tarsal tunnel syndrome.

Deformities of the foot, bad footwear and necrosis


Deformities of the foot, bad footwear and aesthetic ideals

Foot deformities, such as those caused by hallux valgus and a splayfoot, often trigger movement pain and pain in the ball of the foot. According to experts, deformities of the foot can be genetically predisposed, but obviously go hand in hand with the introduction of western shoe fashion and the ideal of the narrow female foot.

Too little foot musculature

The combination of high, tight shoes and little barefoot walking favors a atrophy of the foot musculature and thus contributes significantly to the development of splayfoot and hallux valgus.

THE foot problem

Hallux valgus is regarded as THE foot problem and almost every third person has to struggle with it. The big toe slides over the neighboring toe and a bump forms on the inner edge of the foot.
The splayfoot, known as the precursor of Hallux valgus, is characterized by a lowering of the transverse arch in the metatarsus, often associated with pain in the ball of the foot. It is important to strengthen the muscles in order to reduce pain in the ball of the foot.

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Responsible shoe manufactures have feel-good shoes with fashionable chic and offering today's woman perfect shoes. What is often forgotten is the holistic view of the body, because deformities of the foot can also be promoted by deformities in the knee and hip joints.

Pain in the ball of the foot due to necrosis

The death of bone cells and the associated impairment of metabolism can also be responsible for pain in the ball of the foot. Köhler's disease, for example, is a necrosis of the tarsal bones in the area of the metacarpophalangeal joints. So directly under the ball of the foot. If cells die, the bones are deformed and ablated.

Would you like to know more about the symptoms of Hallux valgus?
Here you can go directly to the professional article Symptoms of Hallux valgus

Read more

Different types of pain in the ball of the foot

Not all pain is the same

Depending on the cause, the pain in the ball of the foot can vary: burning and stabbing pain as well as tingling and numbness can be an indication of a nerval cause.

Pressure points, redness and deformation suggest a malposition. In the case of inflammatory causes, there is often additional redness, but swelling in combination with pain in the ball of the foot is also not uncommon.

Tendonitis in the early stages is characterised by pain after exertion, which can also occur at rest or with light exertion if it becomes chronic.

If there is a gout disease, the pain is intermittent. Some complain of pain in the ball of the foot when rolling, others of pain in the ball of the foot on the inside, outside or in the middle of the sole of the foot. There may also be no obvious symptoms at all, but a swollen ball of the foot without pain.

The foot is very complex and should therefore be thoroughly examined and any abnormalities clarified as soon as possible.

Please visit a doctor or orthopaedist to have your problem individually clarified and treated.

Alleviating bunion pain, the therapy

If you have diffuse pain in the ball of your foot, consult a doctor!

Because the range from fatigue fracture to gout is wide! With the right diagnosis, there is also no risk of tendon irritations becoming chronic, for example.

Depending on the cause, treatment must be surgical, conservative or medicinal. The doctor can suggest what is right in your case after an examination. Perhaps physiotherapy treatment is enough. This is part of the conservative therapy. This includes mobilisation, foot and toe exercises.

We have put together some exercises for you to do at home.

For everyone and every day!

Learn more

Foot gymnastics without effort


Of course, it would also be great to integrate more barefoot walking into everyday life and, for example, to walk around the house with socks and not with soled slippers.

Of course, orthopaedic aids such as splints, bandages or insoles can also provide relief for some conditions. Especially hallux valgus, the so-called "bunion" can be treated for years with strengthening and orthopaedic aids and in this way pain in the ball of the foot can be reduced.
Sometimes this prevents hallux valgus surgery altogether. Fitting and foot-friendly shoes do the rest for pain in the ball of the foot.

Are you curious about great shoes with charm from UXGO?

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Dear readers, take your feet seriously! We can't just trample on them, bend them and put them in bad shoes, we also have to value them. Get out of your shoes and walk barefoot through the garden. It is very important to let small children walk a lot without shoes so that the muscles do not atrophy in the first place. Pain in the ball of the foot can have many different causes. Accordingly, it must be diagnosed and treated accordingly. It is best to discuss which therapy is best suited to your individual pain with your doctor as soon as possible. Do you really need an operation or is physiotherapy enough? Do you need medication or orthotics? There are many unanswered questions that can only be answered after a detailed diagnosis. And don't wait too long so that the pain in the ball of your foot doesn't become chronic. We wish you a speedy recovery!

Important notice:

This article contains general information only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor. If you have foot pain, make an appointment with an orthopaedist, preferably a foot specialist.

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