What Is Metatarsalgia? Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Metatarsalgia is a condition in which the ball of your foot becomes painful and inflamed. This pain can be caused by a number of factors and can be treated in various ways. Anyone can experience metatarsalgia but runners and those who take part in high impact sports activities or spend more time on their forefoot are more prone to suffering from the condition. Metatarsalgia is also common among individuals with high arches, as it’s known to put extra pressure on the metatarsals and heels. Overweight people also have higher chances of suffering from metatarsalgia.

The main symptom of metatarsalgia is experiencing pain in the metatarsal area under the ball of the foot. The condition may or may not be accompanied by bruising and swelling or inflammation. Symptoms may be experienced quickly or develop over time. Although this condition is generally not serious, it can be extremely uncomfortable. Fortunately, there is a variety of treatments that relieve symptoms.



Wearing the appropriate metatarsalgia shoes is the first step to finding relief from this condition. Research has shown that footwear with adjusted or angled toe characters does not restrict the free movement of the toes and keeps the metatarsal bones adjusted. Proper support is essential to alleviate pain and metatarsalgia shoes feature stun engrossing insoles that help keep the foot’s curve from caving in, keeping the foot in an optimal position.

Choosing the right shoes is of extreme importance. The best way to find relief for the condition is to lessen the weight on the chunk of the foot, and that is often possible with the assistance of uncommonly outlined shoes and embeds. There are various models of shoes that come with different additions and curve bolsters that may help accomplish this. Getting shoes with decent curve support can help evenly distribute the weight across the foot. Metatarsal pads can also be of great help in this case.

Metatarsalgia shoes that feature insoles with good arch support and cushioning will help alleviate the pressure on the metatarsal bone. Those with neutral and flat arches should consider getting models with a wide toe box, while people with high arches should insert shock-absorbing insoles to relieve pressure in the metatarsal area. You will want to avoid soft midsole shoes (flexible) without arch support. Wearing stiff sole shoes with rocker sole bottom will help reduce the pressure at the ball of the foot. If you tend to stand for long periods, you may want to consider a shoe with a rocker bottom. A rocker sole design provides excellent support when standing for long hours on hard surfaces. They will make you less fatigued and you can walk longer distances while wearing them.


Lifestyle and Home Remedies

There are some tips that you can try at home to help ease your pain.

  • Apply ice to the affected area for about 20 minutes at a time several times a day. Remember to wrap the ice packs in a thin towel to protect your skin.
  • Protect your foot from further injury by not putting stress on it. So, after standing or walking, remember to elevate your foot and rest. You might need to take a break from your favourite sport for a while, but you can stay fit with low-impact exercises, such as cycling or swimming.
  • Take over-the-counter pain killers to reduce pain and inflammation – you can try ibuprofen, naproxen sodium or aspirin.

Corrective Metatarsalgia Exercises

Physiotherapists suggest performing corrective foot posture exercises that help improve the dynamic muscle control of your foot. Ideally, if you retrain your own foot muscles with the help of exercises, then hopefully, you won’t need to wear metatarsal pain relief shoes to solve your problem. The muscles of your feet are designed to work effectively but they can also weaken and become lazy. Consult a physiotherapist for specific advice on your condition and tips on exercises to help improve your condition.


When to See a Doctor?

Although not all foot problems need medical care, (it is normal to experience foot ache after a long day of standing or a punishing workout) you shouldn’t ignore pain that lasts more than a few days. Talk to your doctor if you have burning pain in the ball of your foot that doesn’t improve after changing your shoes or activities.

Also, if you are experiencing pain on top of your foot, you should see a doctor. You might be wondering can metatarsalgia cause pain on top of the foot, and as a matter of fact, it can when you have a metatarsal stress fracture. There are five metatarsal bones in the centre of the foot, and you can develop a metatarsal stress fracture if you go too hard or too fast. So, if you are experiencing tell-tale swelling and pain concentrated on the top of your foot over the bones, it may be a sing of metatarsal stress fatigue.