Metatarsalgia is characterized by acute pain in the ball of the upper foot region, or the area between the foot’s arch and toes. There are five metatarsal bones running down the middle of the foot from the toes to the ankle; when one of the nerves between the metatarsals becomes inflamed, metatarsalgia and its accompanying pain result.

What Are Some Causes of Metatarsalgia? Metatarsalgia can occur when uneven or too much pressure is applied to the foot’s metatarsals due to the following conditions:

  • Foot injuries
  • Weight-bearing sports and exercises, such as running
  • Ill-fitting or rigid footwear
  • Prolonged standing on hard floors or ground
  • Overpronation, or rolling in of the feet when walking or running which causes uneven weight distribution on the feet
  • Foot deformities
  • Morton’s neuroma
  • Arthritis
  • Aging (degenerates foot bones and pads)
  • Weight gain

What Are Symptoms of Metatarsalgia?

  • Sudden or increasing pain in the toe and forefoot area, especially during activity or walking barefoot
  • Callus formation under the inflicted joint due to pressure

How Is Metatarsalgia Treated?

  • Rest the area and restrict sports and physical activity
  • Apply ice
  • Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications on a temporary basis (ask your doctor first)
  • Wear properly-fitting, supportive, and appropriate footwear and orthotics such as arch supports, metatarsal lifts, and inserts
  • Eliminate overpronation with appropriate footwear and orthotics
  • Lose weight to reduce pressure and stress on the feet