Metatarsalgia Pain under the Ball of the Foot

Metatarsalgia is a condition that occurs due to overuse of the feet or collapsing of the metatarsal bones. While some consider this an illness in itself, it is more of a symptom of other underlying problems than a real disease.

Metatarsalgia affects mostly athletes and people who are involved in activities that involve jumping and running. Other sports people like tennis, football, netball, basketball, and baseball players are also prone to fore foot injuries which are a precursor for metatarsalgia.

Symptoms of Metatarsalgia

So how does one know that they have Metatarsalgia? If you feel pain or pressure at the end of one of your metatarsal bones, then you most probably have or are developing metatarsalgia. The metatarsal bones are a group of five bones which exist in the feet between the tarsal bones of the hind foot, mid-foot and the toe phalanges.

Here are a few definite symptoms of metatarsalgia:


Aching and burning pain behind the toes

Pain when on your feet but relief when you put your feet up

Tingly and numb toes

The pebble in the shoe feeling

Not All Pains in the Sole Are Metatarsalgia

While it is good to be worried about any unfamiliar feeling in our foot, it is important to realize that not all pains in the feet are metatarsalgia. You only need to be genuinely concerned if the pain you feel is not subsiding at all and lasts for more than a day or two even with remedies and pain relief practices.

Most Common Causes of Metatarsalgia

Intense Physical Activity

 Intense physical training like running can most definitely lead to metatarsalgia. The reason for this is that the sole of your feet take up a lot of force during such activities. Athletes must therefore wear appropriate shoes when training or engaging in competitions. Additionally, they should stay away from shoes and boots without cushioning even after the sporting activities.

Ill-Fitting Shoes

Women are most prone to this because of wearing high heels. This type of shoe places a lot of emphasis on the front portion of your sole and this leads to metatarsalgia after a while. Narrow-front shoes or poorly soled shoes are also causes of pain in the balls of the feet.

Morton’s Neuroma

This refers to non-cancerous growth that occurs in the metatarsal bone area. High heels and tight fitting shoes are common causes of this neuroma.

The Structure of the Feet

As unfair as this sound, some people get metatarsalgia simply because they have poorly structured bones that place pressure on the ball of the feet. People with second toes that happen to be longer than the big toe are almost definite victims because most of the weight shifts to the second metatarsal bone instead of being evenly distributed among the five.


Being overweight is a risk factor when it comes to metatarsalgia. When you are overweight you place a lot more pressure on the soles of your feet compared to people with healthy weight levels.

Feet Complications

If you have other problems with your feet such as arthritis, gout or even hammertoe you will experience pain and discomfort that will force you to walk a certain way. Changing your gait can eventually lead to metatarsalgia.

Remedies for Metatarsalgia

Pain Relievers

If you are unable to see a doctor about the pain in your feet you can take OTC or over the counter meds that provide momentary relief. You must, however, see a doctor as pain meds will not solve the underlying condition. Your doctor may perform diagnostics like x-rays to ensure it is metatarsalgia before commencing treatment.


Sometimes non invasive treatment options like therapy for your feet become ineffective in the treatment of metatarsalgia. In such cases doctors may be forced to perform surgery to help re-align your metatarsal bones.

Extra Feet Cushioning

You can also do something to help. Rest your feet and place ice on the affected areas. Ensure that you wear proper, comfortable shoes for the activities you engage in. Metatarsal pads are available over the counter and in Footlogics to help move the stress on your foot to other areas. You can also take pain medication as prescribed by medical personnel. You can prevent metatarsalgia by observing a few precautionary measures. Always wear comfortable shoes. Preferably choose shoes with extra cushioning inside. This keeps your feet comfortable all day.

Healthy Weight

Maintain a healthy weight as much as possible. This helps relieve pressure from your feet while also benefitting your overall health.

All in all metatarsalgia is manageable, preventable and treatable. Do not persevere through the pain as you may permanently disfigure your feet. Prolonged use of pain meds can lead to addiction.




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