Metatarsalgia is a condition that causes the ball of the foot to be painful and inflamed. Because the ball of the foot absorbs stress when running and jumping, it can become injured and sore with excessive activity. Although metatarsalgia is not serious, the pain can prevent people from participating in exercise and sports.


Overuse is the most common cause of metatarsalgia. There are also a number of other factors that can lead to this condition, including high-impact sports, high arches, obesity, and ill-fitting shoes.


A sharp or aching pain in the ball of the foot is the primary symptom of metatarsalgia. Numbness or tingling in the toes may also occur. Pain will worsen with activity, including standing, running, and walking barefoot on hard surfaces. Metatarsalgia is often compared to the feeling of standing on a pebble in a shoe.


There are a number of other foot conditions with symptoms similar to metatarsalgia. Physicians will carefully assess symptoms and conduct a physical exam to make an accurate diagnosis. X-rays may also be used to rule out other foot problems, such as a stress fracture.


In most cases, metatarsalgia can be treated with ice, rest, and anti-inflammatory medications. Physicians will also recommend shoe adjustments and arch supports. If conditions do not improve or worsen, surgery may be required.

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