What Part of the Foot Affects Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is a medical term used to describe pain in the ball of the foot. The condition is treated as more of a symptom rather than a disease itself.

In metatarsalgia, the pain specifically occurs between the metatarsals and phalanges, usually in the 2nd -4th metatarsal joints. The implication of metatarsalgia is it limits the individual’s independence and mobility in performing daily activities.

Health Conditions – The Causes of Metatarsalgia?

The causes of metatarsalgia are due to high-impact sports, personal activities and other health conditions that put a great amount of force and pressure on the feet. Common culprits of metatarsalgia include high arched foot, poorly fitting footwear, stress fractures, poor quality insoles, bunions from tight-fitting shoes, high-impact, repetitive activities, diabetes, and arthritis amongst others.

What Type of Pain Comes from Metatarsalgia?

Pain in metatarsalgia is described as gradual, sharp and burning. The onset is not abrupt and the pain is often chronic.

When to Seek Medical Help?

A doctor determines the problem by ascertaining a health history, doing a physical assessment and performing diagnostic exams or tests. It must be mentioned that foot pain is a somewhat normal experience for everyone after a series of some activities or sports.

However, if you notice that the pain lasts for several days or does not improve following some modifications in your lifestyle or taking some relief, it is best to see a podiatrist, a doctor who is a specialist in foot problems.


What are the Signs or Symptoms to Watch Out For?

The symptoms of metatarsalgia can range from moderate to severe and it is always helpful to have a full and more comprehensive understanding of metatarsalgia, but the following are the most common symptoms:

  • Pain in the ball of the foot
  • Pain increasing during weight-bearing
  • Tenderness on the affected part
  • Pain during toe flexion (when toes are bent downwards)
  • Pain radiating to the big toe and its adjacent toes
  • Excessive calluses
  • Pain during walking or running
  • Numbness sensation of the toes
  • Increased pain when walking barefoot

One condition that has a similar condition to that of metatarsalgia is Morton’s neuroma. A differential diagnosis of metatarsalgia, Morton’s neuroma is also due to irritation of nerves. In addition to foot pain, individuals affected with Morton’s neuroma will also feel a tingling sensation in the toes.

How to Diagnose Metatarsalgia?

X-Rays, USD (ultrasound) and MRI are radiologic exams that help visualize the foot. Blood tests are also performed to rule out any underlying problems like gout. Laboratory work-ups include CBC and erythrocyte sedimentation rate.

What is the Treatment for Metatarsalgia?

Basically, Metatarsalgia Treatment consists of lifestyle modification, drugs and surgery. Lifestyle modifications include wearing comfortable shoes; avoiding being overweight; using padded, shock-absorbing insoles and taking rest periods during intense activities.

Medications such as NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs) manage acute pain relief and inflammation. For severe pain, corticosteroid injections are administered. A quick way to relieve pain and inflammation brought by metatarsalgia is a cold compress application. Use an ice pack or crushed ice wrapped in a towel and apply it to the area for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day.