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About Metatarsalgia Pain in the Ball of the Foot

metatarsalgia pain ball of the foot

Having pain in the ball of the foot can be a frustrating condition, usually known as metatarsalgia. Metarsalgia happens when increased pressure is placed on the ball of the foot, causing inflammation, irritation, and pain. Metatarsalgia can have many different causes, and can really impact your daily life. In this blog post, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and possible treatment and management options for metatarsalgia pain in the ball of the foot.

Understanding Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia pain in the ball of the foot has several causes. These include:

1. Certain athletic activities: high-impact sports or repetitive movements like running or jumping place increased strain on the metatarsals, leading to inflammation and pain.

2. Certain types of shoes: Wearing shoes that are too flimsy, that don't have enough cushion at the ball of your foot, or that have a narrow toe box increases pressure on the ball of the foot, which all can increase your risk of developing metatarsalgia pain in the ball of your foot. High-heels can also increase your risk of developing metatarsalgia because the design of heels shifts your body weight when standing or walking over the balls of your feet more than normal.

3. Foot deformities: Changes to your feet, such as bunions and hammertoes, can also change the weight distribution across the foot, causing increased pressure on the ball of your foot, and therefore, increasing your chances of metatarsalgia.

4. Foot type: Having a high arch or cavus foot type also can increase your risk of developing metatarsalgia due to increased pressure on the ball of the foot.

5. Weight-related factors: Being overweight or obese places additional pressure, stress, and strain on the feet, which can increase the risk of developing metatarsalgia.

6. Age-related changes: As we age, the fat pad in the ball of the foot thins. This leads the feet with less cushion and shock absorption. The loss of the fat pad, can make it very painful to walk or participate in certain activities. Dermal fillers can be used in the feet to provide temporary cushion and relieve metatarsalgia pain. To learn more about foot fillers, click my other blog post on this topic here:

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Metatarsalgia pain in the ball of the foot may have many symptoms, including:

  • Burning, sharp, or aching pain in the ball of the foot, especially when standing, walking, running, or other activities

  • The feeling of walking on a rock or pebble in your foot

  • Numbness or tingling in the toes.

  • Increased pain when standing or walking barefoot.

When experiencing foot pain, especially foot pain that has been around for a while, it is important to see a foot doctor or podiatrist for a correct diagnosis. A foot doctor will do a thorough examination, ask about symptoms and medical history, and may order additional tests such as X-rays, MRIs, or ultrasounds to rule out any other possible causes of foot pain.

Management and Treatment

metatarsalgia pain ball of foot

Effectively managing metatarsalgia pain in the ball of the foot using involves a combination of conservative or nonsurgical treatment options, with the goal being pain relief and prevention of further discomfort. Here are some tips to manage metatarsalgia pain conservatively.

  • Rest and ice: Temporarily reducing activity and applying ice packs to the balls of the feet can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.

  • Make changes to your shoes: Opt for shoes with proper cushioning, a roomy toe box, and enough arch support to remove excess pressure on the metatarsals, and the ball of your foot. A foot doctor may suggest orthotic inserts or additional padding for added support and cushioning.

  • Weight management: Losing excess weight can also reduce pressure on the metatarsal heads, and ball of the foot, therefore relieving symptoms and discomfort.

  • Physical therapy: Certain exercises and stretches prescribed by a physical therapist can strengthen foot muscles, improve flexibility, and enhance overall foot function.

  • Medications: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, temporarily help reduce pain and inflammation associated with metatarsalgia. As always, it is important for your foot doctor to get to the root cause of the metatarsalgia, and treat it.


Metatarsalgia pain in the ball of the foot can really impact daily your life, but understanding its causes, and symptoms, and using the right management or treatment techniques can give you pain relief.

Do you have foot pain, and are looking for a doctor to treat your metatarsalgia? My name is Dr. Tarr, and I am the owner of Direct Podiatry Arizona in Tempe, AZ. To view available appointment times for a free 15-minute consultation, click the link

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