Metatarsalgia is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in the ball of your foot. You may also feel pain in the big toe or the 3 toes closest to the big toe.
Metatarsalgia can be caused by a number of conditions:
Metatarsalgia is more common in older adults due to the aging process. Factors that increase your chance of developing metatarsalgia include:
Symptoms of metatarsalgia include:
You will be asked 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-rays.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
The foot will need time to heal. Supportive care includes:
Shoe inserts called orthotics may be advised to help lessen pain and provide support. Insoles may also be advised. They may be shock absorbers, arch supporters, or special pads that protect your foot.
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.
If there are foot problems that are causing the metatarsalgia, surgery may be advised. The type of surgery depends upon what is causing the problem.
If excessive weight is contributing to the foot pain, you may be asked to lose weight through diet and exercise.
To help reduce your chance of getting metatarsalgia, take the following steps:
American College of Foot & Ankle Orthopaedics & Medicine
American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society
The Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Metatarsalgia. American College of Foot & Ankle Orthopaedics & Medicine website. Available at: http://www.acfaom.org/information-for-patients/common-conditions/metatarsalgia. Accessed February 22, 2018.
Pain in the ball of the foot (metatarsalgia). Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal-and-connective-tissue-disorders/foot-and-ankle-disorders/metatarsalgia. Updated September 2016. Accessed February 18, 2016.
Last reviewed February 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.