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Metatarsalgia

(Pain in Ball of Foot)

Pronounced: meta-tar-sal-jea

Definition

Metatarsalgia is a condition that causes pain and inflammation to the ball of your foot. You may also feel pain in the big toe or the three toes closest to the big toe.

Metatarsalgia

metatarsalgia
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes    TOP

Metatarsalgia can be caused by a number of conditions:

Risk Factors    TOP

Factors that increase your chance of developing metatarsalgia include:

  • Feet with high arches
  • Feet with abnormally long bones
  • Claw/ Hammer toes
  • High-impact sports
  • Being overweight
  • Wearing shoes that don’t fit well or high heels
  • Increased age—age-related atrophy of fat pad
  • Problems with circulation
  • Gout
  • Diabetes

Claw Toes

claw toe
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Symptoms    TOP

Symptoms of metatarsalgia include:

  • Pain in the ball of the foot
  • Numbness or tingling in toes or foot
  • Pain when walking
  • Toe pain
  • Pain with movement
  • Sharp pain
  • Feeling like you are walking on pebbles
  • Associated back or leg pain
  • Weakness in the limb

Diagnosis    TOP

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a specialist.

Images may need to be taken of your foot. This can be done with x-ray.

Treatment    TOP

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:

Rest

Rest is an important part of treatment. Elevate your foot on pillows and ice it to speed healing.

Orthotics

Your doctor may prescribe shoe inserts. They may help lessen pain and provide support. Your doctor may also recommend insoles. They may be shock absorbers, arch supporters, or special pads that protect your foot.

Medication    TOP

A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) may be advised to reduce pain and inflammation. A corticosteroid shot is sometimes injected into the foot to lessen pain.

Surgery    TOP

If there are foot problems that are causing the metatarsalgia, surgery may be recommended. The type of surgery depends upon what is causing the problem.

Diet and Exercise     TOP

If excessive weight is contributing to the foot pain, you may be asked to lose weight through diet and exercise.

Prevention    TOP

To help reduce your chance of getting metatarsalgia, take the following steps:

RESOURCES:

American College of Foot & Ankle Orthopaedics & Medicine
http://www.acfaom.org
American Physical Therapy Association
http://www.apta.org
American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society
http://www.aofas.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The Canadian Orthopaedic Association
http://www.coa-aco.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
http://www.canorth.org

References:

Metatarsalgia. American College of Foot & Ankle Orthopaedics & Medicine website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed November 5, 2008.
Metatarsalgia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated January 31, 2014. Accessed February 18, 2014.
Pain in the ball of the foot (metatarsalgia). Merck Manuals website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated December 2012. Accessed May 1, 2013.
Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 3/1/2013