Jul 26, 2023
Ball of foot pain.

Title: Metatarsalgia: Understanding the Causes, Symptoms, and Effective Treatment Options


Metatarsalgia is a common foot condition characterized by pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot, specifically the area between the toes and arch. It often results from excessive pressure on the metatarsal bones, which can lead to discomfort and hinder normal activities. It can also lead to corna and callouses forming to the ball of the foot. These can be very painful and sometimes lead to ulcerations.In this blog post, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and various treatment options available to manage metatarsalgia effectively.

Causes of Metatarsalgia

Several factors can contribute to the development of metatarsalgia:

  1. High-Impact Activities: Participating in high-impact sports or activities that involve running or jumping can put excessive strain on the metatarsal bones, leading to inflammation and pain.

  2. Ill-Fitting Footwear: Wearing shoes that lack proper support, have inadequate cushioning, or have a narrow toe box can increase pressure on the ball of the foot.

  3. Foot Deformities: Conditions such as bunions, hammer toes,  a high arch or tight Achilles tendon can alter weight distribution on the foot, causing undue stress on the metatarsal region.

  4. Previous foot surgeries that have shortened or removed the neighbouring metatarsals. This can put more pressure on the remaining metatarsals.
  5. Excess Body Weight: Being overweight can increase the pressure on the forefoot, exacerbating the symptoms of metatarsalgia.

  6. Aging: As we age, the natural fat pad in the ball of the foot may thin out, leading to less cushioning and increased susceptibility to metatarsal pain.

Symptoms of Metatarsalgia

The primary symptom of metatarsalgia is pain in the ball of the foot. The pain may vary in intensity and is often described as a burning, aching, or sharp sensation. Other common symptoms include:

  1. Swelling and Tenderness: The affected area may become swollen and tender to the touch.

  2. Worsening Pain during Activities: Pain may worsen during activities that put pressure on the forefoot, such as walking or standing for extended periods.

  3. Numbness or Tingling: Some individuals may experience tingling or numbness in the toes due to nerve compression.

Effective Treatment Options

The treatment for metatarsalgia aims to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and prevent future occurrences. Here are some effective treatment options:

  1. Rest and Ice: Taking a break from activities that aggravate the condition can help reduce inflammation. Applying ice to the affected area for 15-20 minutes several times a day can also provide relief.

  2. Supportive Footwear: Wearing well-fitted, supportive shoes with cushioning in the ball of the foot can alleviate pressure and reduce symptoms.

  3. Orthotic Inserts: Custom or over-the-counter orthotic inserts can help redistribute weight and provide additional support to the metatarsal region.

  4. Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can recommend exercises to strengthen foot muscles and improve flexibility, promoting better weight distribution.

  5. Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the strain on the forefoot and alleviate symptoms.

  6. NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage pain and inflammation. However, prolonged use should be discussed with a healthcare professional.

  7. Corticosteroid Injections: In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be administered to reduce inflammation and pain.

  8. Padding and Taping: The use of metatarsal pads or taping techniques can offload pressure from the painful

  9. Surgical procedures to relieve the pressure from the metatarsals. Here at Kyrou Podiatry Associates we perform many newer procedures for metatarsalgia to relieve the pressure without much down time.


Metatarsalgia can be a painful and limiting condition, but with proper management and lifestyle adjustments, individuals can find relief and prevent recurrences. If you experience persistent foot pain or suspect metatarsalgia, it is essential to seek evaluation and guidance from a healthcare professional or a podiatrist. Early intervention and appropriate care can make a significant difference in managing metatarsalgia and improving overall foot health.