Close look on metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia is basically pain or discomfort in the ball of the foot. This is the location in between the toes and arches on the base of the foot. In most cases, the condition is centered on the 5 bones beneath the toes or metatarsals. The pain of metatarsalgia can be triggered by various conditions and have different treatment measures.

Who are at risk?

Any individual can develop metatarsalgia but runners and others who engage in high impact sports are likely to develop the condition than others.


Aside from frequent running, using ill-fitting shoes or high heels can also increase the risk.

Individuals who have high arches are also at higher risk than others. The arch can apply added pressure on the metatarsals. Those who have a second toe that is longer than the big toe are also at higher risk. In addition, those who have foot deformities such as bunions and hammertoes are also at risk.


Not all the causes of metatarsalgia are known. Aside from frequent running, using ill-fitting shoes or high heels can also increase the risk.

Those who are overweight might end up with the condition as well. Individuals who are diagnosed with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or gout are known to end up with the condition.

Indications of metatarsalgia

The distinctive symptom of metatarsalgia is pain or discomfort in the metatarsal region below the ball of the foot. This may or may not be accompanied by swelling, bruising or inflammation. The symptoms can occur rapidly or develop over time such as the following:

  • Pain or discomfort in the ball of the foot – the pain is described as aching, piercing or burning. The pain is aggravated when running, standing or walking.
  • Feeling of a pebble in the shoes
  • Tingling or numbness in the toes

If the individual has any of these symptoms, a doctor should be consulted. Once the condition is left untreated, it can lead to hammertoe which causes the individual to limp and trigger pain in other regions of the body including the hip and lower back.


The doctor will conduct an assessment by asking about the symptoms. In most cases, the doctor will examine the foot manually. In some cases, an X-ray is required in order to rule out stress fractures or other issues that might be responsible for causing the pain.


Always bear in mind that metatarsalgia is typically managed without requiring surgical intervention. The doctor will recommend the use of a metatarsal padding, shoe insert or surgical shoe in order to offload the sore region of the foot. Athletic shoes might be recommended as well.

Shoes that have good soles, roomy toe box and a low heel are also ideal. Soaking the affected foot and filing it with a pumice stone to remove calluses is also beneficial in relieving the pressure. Individuals who have diabetes must consult a doctor first though. Incase these measure could not relieve the condition, an injection or surgical procedure might be needed.


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