What is Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia occurs when the area that is considered the ball of the foot becomes inflamed and painful. There are five metatarsal bones in the foot and they are situated between the phalanges and the tarsal bones. When the top portion of a metatarsal bone pushes against an adjacent one, this squeezes the nerve and results in pain and inflammation.

There are various reasons why individuals get metatarsalgia and these include wearing shoes that do not fit correctly, wearing shoes that have high heels and engaging in sports or exercise that puts stress on the feet. Some medical issues can also contribute to this disorder and they include diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and bunions.

What are the Symptoms of Metatarsalgia?

Individuals who experience metatarsalgia may have pain in the toes, pain in the area that is down from the toes, excessive foot pain when standing and intensified pain when walking without shoes. Some people who have this condition often feel a burning pain in the foot or they may have sharp pains that come about suddenly.

The symptoms normally materialize at a slow rate but they can appear suddenly when excess strain is placed on the feet by physical activities, such as jogging.

How is Metatarsalgia Treated?

Individuals can help their symptoms of metatarsalgia by abstaining from activities, such as sports and exercise, that aggravate the condition by placing strain on the feet. While relaxing, individuals should put their feet up so they do not put pressure on the bottom of their feet.

Doctors often suggest wearing different types of shoes and using orthotics to provide support for the feet. Some individuals opt to have steroid injections to help with swollen and painful feet. If these treatments do not provide adequate relief, foot surgery is the last option. During this procedure, a surgeon may change the form of the metatarsal bones or eliminate the nerve that is causing the foot pain.

Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
August 31, 2017