Understanding Metatarsalgia

Understanding Metatarsalgia

What Is Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is often the diagnosis for the pain that is felt around the ball of one’s foot.

The inflammation is localized to the end of the long bones in the midfoot, called the metatarsals.

What Are The Symptoms?

Metatarsalgia is pain around the ball of the foot when weight-bearing.


People describe their symptoms as achy, sharp or even a burning-type pain; a bruised feeling on the ball of the foot is also a very common complaint. Others also report the sensation of a small pebble in their shoe when walking.

Walking barefoot is usually more aggravating than when wearing a shoe, and the pain usually worsens the more one is on their feet. Rest and non-weight-bearing positions usually allow the pain to subside.

What Causes Metatarsalgia?

There are numerous potential underlying causes of metatarsalgia.

Some of the most common are listed below:

  • People taking part in running or high impact
    (jumping sports have a higher frequency of metatarsalgia)
  • A sudden increase in training intensity
  • A high-arched foot
  • Tight lower extremity musculature
  • Poorly fit or worn out shoes
  • Excessive wearing of high heels
  • Overweight individuals
  • Co-existing medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout

What Is The Treatment For Metatarsalgia?

A conservative approach can usually treat metatarsalgia.

The most common treatment strategies are listed below.

It’s usually a combination of these tactics that help one fully recover from metatarsalgia.

  • Custom Orthotics
  • Inserting a metatarsal pad in your shoe
  • Proper flexibility of lower extremity muscles
  • Weight loss
  • Managing other medical conditions
  • Rest from the aggravating activity
  • Anti-inflammatory through ice/medicine
  • Minimizing time spent in bare feet
  • Wearing proper footwear

Differential Diagnosis?

When assessing one for metatarsalgia, the healthcare professional should rule out other foot conditions.

The most common being Morton’s Neuroma or a stress fracture.

Teresa Agar, MScPT, BHKin
Registered Physiotherapist

Trailside Physio – Coquitlam Clinic

  • Linda Norris

    March 22, 2019 at 9:28 am Reply

    I am diabetic and lost 45 pounds. The ball of right foot feel like blister or rawness pain mostly in shoes. What is a solution as far as relief ?

  • Margaret Estrada

    April 12, 2020 at 2:51 am Reply

    Well written post.

Post a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.