Foot Pain

Metatarsalgia

What is metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is a general term used to describe pain around your toes or the ball of your foot. This may be around a single joint or may give widespread pain around all the toes.

What are the causes of metatarsalgia?

  • Pain is usually caused by repeated physical stress and loading of the metatarsal heads (long bones in your feet). The big toe joint and the 2nd toe are commonly affected.
  • Tight fitting, high heeled shoes
  • Increased body weight.
  • Inflammation of the nerve that supplies the toes (Morton's Neuroma) can also cause pain.
  • Joint stiffness or deformity of the foot or toes.
  • Reduced blood supply to the bones can cause pain, although this is a relatively rare situation.

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Pain in the ball of your foot which is worse with standing or walking.
  • Pain usually eases with rest and soft insoled shoes.
  • Often the problem starts as an ache and gradually becomes more painful if simple measures are not taken.

How do I manage this problem?

  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Keep your weight under control.
  • Exercises including stretches to improve the flexibility in the joints and muscles around your ankle and foot.

What other treatments are available?

  • Your podiatrist may recommend orthotic inserts for your footwear to ease the pressure in the painful area. This may be in the form of metatarsal pads or a heel wedge.
  • An X-ray or scan may be recommended to look for other causes of your pain if symptoms persist after regular treatment.