Metarsalgia

Signs & Symptons

Metatarsalgia is the name given to pain in the front part of your foot under the heads of your metatarsal bones (the ball of your foot).

Causes

There are various causes of Metatarsalgia including:

  • Badly fitting footwear - high-heeled or tight, restrictive shoes or boots. Shoes with a narrow toe box or high heels can force the ball of the foot into a small amount of space, which puts more pressure on that area.
  • Being overweight - This can increase the pressure upon the foot.
  • Age - Older people are more susceptible to metatarsalgia as the fat pad that protects the foot can thin with age, making them more likely to feel pain in the ball of their foot.
  • Bone structure of the foot - Narrow, high-arched feet or flat feet can increase the chance of metatarsalgia. Hammer toes (where the toes are bent at the middle joint) and a bunion (bony swelling at the base of the toe) can also bring it on.
  • High-impact sports - such as running or tennis, which puts extra pressure on the foot.
  • Stress fractures in the foot - These occasionally occur in athletes or walkers and cause pain to come on rapidly.

Treatment

Simple measures can help to relieve the symptoms of metatarsalgia. These include:

  • Resting with your feet elevated where possible.
  • Wearing shoes that are well fitted, low-heeled and with a wide toe area.
  • Orthotic inserts for your shoes may help to relieve pain in your foot by reducing the pressure placed on the heads of your metatarsal bones.
  • Painkillers such as paracetamol may help to relieve pain.