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Stabbing Pain in the Ball of Your Foot: What Is It?

Learn about the causes of stabbing pain in the ball of your foot, how to identify metatarsalgia, and what you can do about it.

a man in a white shirt and blue and pink suspenders
By Babafemi Adebajo
Joel Taylor
Edited by Joel Taylor

Published January 26, 2022.

Foot pain is quite common. When it occurs, it can be due to several different reasons, including a sprain, tendonitis, Morton's neuroma, bursitis, arthritis, etc. There are various causes and types of foot pain that you can experience.

This type of foot pain is more commonly known as metatarsalgia.

What Is Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is pain that occurs in the ball or sole of the feet that some individuals describe as "crunchy." Generally, it is caused by overloading or repetitive loading of the foot. This occurs due to high-impact activities, wearing improperly fitting shoes, foot deformities, high arches, and even excessive weight.

Pain due to metatarsalgia is aching and stabbing in nature, and without treatment, it can grow progressively worse. Metatarsalgia symptoms tend to progress slowly, but there may be sudden bursts of intensity that may worsen with activities like walking barefoot, standing, running, and participating in other sports. With metatarsalgia, your foot may feel like you’re walking with marble or pebbles in your shoe. You may also have a sharp burning or shooting pain in the ball of your foot or your toes may feel numb or tingle.

Apart from the sharp, stabbing pain, you may also experience swelling and bruising at the metatarsals. If left untreated, metatarsalgia can lead to joint stiffness, limited range of motion, and pain in the lower back and hip due to altered body mechanics.

Understanding Your Foot Pain

Whenever you experience foot pain, you must determine the exact location of the pain. Usually, the treatment depends on the cause and aims to alleviate pain and address any other associated symptoms. If you want the best way to stop the balls of your feet from hurting then it is best that you see a doctor when foot pain persists without improvement as they can assess your foot to determine the cause and the best line of treatment.