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Metatarsalgia or Ball of Foot Pain – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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If you are experiencing pain in your ball of foot, it’s better to consult a podiatrist because it may be something called metatarsalgia. Have you heard this term before? You may or may not; in any case, you should be informed about it.

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Metatarsalgia is an umbrella term referring to pain in the ball of foot. It’s usually considered to be a symptom or diagnosis or both, and can be complex.

If you don’t know, the ball of foot is the part of the foot called sole area and is between the toes and the arch. It’s underneath the heads of metatarsal bones. When pain is developed in this area, the condition is known as metatarsalgia.


One of the major causes of metatarsalgia is Morton’s neuroma, a condition affecting the nerves, often between the 3rd and 4th metatarsal toe bone.

Causes of metatarsalgia may be intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic refers to the problem that is genetic, while extrinsic refers to a problem arisen due to an external factor.

Some main causes of metatarsalgia include:

  • Particular anatomy of foot such as high arch that exerts additional pressure on metatarsals, second toe longer than big toe (Morton’s toe) that puts extra pressure on the 2nd metatarsal head, hammer toe which is bent in the middle and puts extra stress on the ball of the foot
  • Excess weight that puts extra pressure on forefront of foot while walking
  • Intense training when the front of the foot has to absorb majority of impact
  • Ill-fitting shoes that lack support, boots with a narrow toe box and high heels that exert pressure on the front part of foot
  • Age due to which the foot padding becomes thin
  • Medical conditions like bunions, rheumatoid arthritis, Achilles tendonitis, diabetes and stiff ankle, all of which puts excess pressure on metatarsals

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Signs and Symptoms

The main sign is the pain that reaches its peak while walking, running or even while standing. Pain can be mild to severe, and experienced by most patients as if they have stepped on a small pebble.

Commonly the pain is experienced under two metatarsals, but some patients experience it under all metatarsals.

Sometimes numbness and tingling is also experienced in toes.


Fortunately a podiatrist like the one at treat metatarsalgia in many ways.

The treatment is decided depending upon the amount of time you are suffering from the condition and severity of the problem. There is a long list of non-surgical treatment options.

Firstly it’s recommended to keep weight off the foot for the first 24 hours of diagnosis.

Together with this, an icing regime is advised for the entire day for 15-20 minutes at a time. The ice should be kept wrapped in a covering and should not touch the skin directly.

An oral anti-inflammatory medication is also prescribed to keep away pain and inflammation.

A podiatrist Dee Why such as ModPod Podiatry will also advise you to wear shoes with padding, wide toe box, flat heels and arch support.

Thus, if you are experiencing pain in ball of your foot, get it treated and live a comfortable life.

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