Metatarsalgia-Pain in the ball of the foot


Pain in the ball of the foot is a condition determined by inflammation or ache in the metatarsus (ball of your foot). This condition is also scientifically known as Metatarsalgia. Metatarsalgia can be experienced by anyone who involves in physical activities which includes jumping, running etc. There are chances that you may also develop Metatarsalgia if you wear ill fitting footwear, particularly shoe.

Though the condition is not life threatening, it may hinder your lifestyle as it may be extremely painful and make you immobile. Fortunately in some mild cases symptoms of metatarsalgia can be treated using conservative treatment techniques such as ice pads, rest, hot water pads etc. Proper footwear with comfortable fitting as well as sufficient padding such as insole, cushion or arch support would help in preventing any such painful condition from arising.

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Symptoms of Metatarsalgia (pain in the ball of foot):

Metatarsalgia also has some symptoms that may accompany with pain in the ball of the foot. These symptoms may also include:

• Burning pain in the metatarsus

• The pain in the metatarsus may also expand to 2nd 3rd and 4th toes; it may also onset from these toes in some cases the pain may be experienced only at the big toe.

• Pain may be experienced during walking, running etc and gradually gets alleviated when you rest.

• Extremely sharp pain at the toes

• Tingling sensation or Numbness experienced at toes or metatarsus

• Experiencing worsened pain while flexing toe

• A feeling that make you feel as you here is something in your shoe under the metatarsus

• Increased ache while walking barefoot on a hard surface

In some cases there is a sudden onset of such symptoms especially when the affected individual has suddenly increased the amount of daily activities such as jumping or running. However, usually the condition develops gradually through time.

Causes of Metatarsalgia:

Each foot has five metatarsal bones running from the arch of the foot to the toe joints. The very first metatarsal bone is thicker and shorter than other metatarsal bones. The other four bones are usually similar in size. While doing excessive workout or daily activities, you may exert pressure on your metatarsal bone due to your body weight. It is the first as well as second metatarsal bone takes most impact of the pressure. Most cases of pain in the ball of the foot arise due to hindrance to the mechanics or normal functioning of the foot. There are several factors that may cause pain in metatarsus.

Intense regular activity or training:

Racers are at higher risk of developing metatarsalgia as the front of the foot takes significant amount of pressure while running. There are other sports that includes running, jumping etc; hence players who involve in such sports are prone to develop pain in the ball of the foot. During participation in such sports you should ensure that your shoes are well fitting.

Foot shape:

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There are certain foot shapes that may also make a person vulnerable to metatarsalgia. For example, high arch in foot may exert surplus pressure on the metatarsal bones.


This condition may arise due to high heels or tight shoes that keep your foot from resting flat and comfortably. This causes your second toe to curl and bend towards the big toe a little. This contraction may cause stress and pressure to the metatarsal head.


Bunion is a condition wherein swollen as well as sometimes painful bump is noticed at the base of your big toe. In some cases the tendency to develop the condition may be genetic; however, it is usually experienced due to tight and uncomfortable show or high heeled footwear. This condition is commonly seen in women the men. Bunions may exert pressure on the metatarsal bones causing pain in the ball of the foot.

Excess Weight:

Overweight is another factor that may cause metatarsalgia. As front region of the foot takes most of the pressure caused due to your weight, metatarsal bones get disturbed which may lead to pain in the ball of the foot. There are possibilities that the pain may be alleviated if you reduce significant weight.

Uncomfortable shoes:

Poor fitting footwear may also cause metatarsalgia. Tight fitting shoes exert tremendous pressure on the front portion of the foot and cause the toes to curl which depresses the metatarsus. This causes pain in the ball of the foot.

Diagnosis of pain in the ball of foot

Most foot problems are benign and may not need any medical attention. However, it is better to seek treatment for pain that is persistent or intolerable as this pain can be a formidable sign of any underlying disease or disorder. There are chances that the pain may be benign as the pain is result of prolonged standing or unusually pressure on the front part of the foot. Nevertheless, it is suggested to see your doctor even if moderate pain or persistent arises.


On consulting your doctor, your doctor may first perform a simple test just by looking at the depressed foot. If he is unable to identify the issue, he may suggest further tests such as x- rays etc. This will help the health expert to determine the root cause of pain in the ball of the foot and appropriate treatment can be adopted.

Treatment for metatarsalgia:

Pain in the ball of the foot can be alleviated generally through conservative measure if the condition is not caused due to serious physical issues. Rest is perhaps the first thing one should practice in case there is pain experienced in the foot. This reduces chances of further trauma as well as reduces does not allow the pain to elevate. People usually use ice pack or hot pads to apply on the affected region; this is believed to provide relief from pain to certain extent. There are special metatarsal pads that provide support to the metatarsus and alleviate ache. Though there are numerous home remedies for treating pain in the ball of the foot it is always better to consult a certified doctor.





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