Metatarsalgia (met-uh-tahr-SAL-juh) is a condition in which the ball of your foot becomes painful and inflamed. You might develop it if you participate in activities that involve running and jumping. There are other causes as well, including foot deformities and shoes that are too tight or too loose.
Although generally not serious, metatarsalgia can sideline you. Fortunately, at-home treatments, such as ice and rest, often relieve symptoms. Wearing proper footwear with shock-absorbing insoles or arch supports might prevent or minimize future problems with metatarsalgia.
Sometimes a single factor can lead to metatarsalgia. More often, several factors are involved, including:
Symptoms of metatarsalgia can include:
Not all foot problems need medical care. Sometimes your feet ache after a long day of standing or a punishing workout. But it's best not to ignore foot pain that lasts more than a few days. Talk to your doctor if you have a burning pain in the ball of your foot that doesn't improve after changing your shoes and modifying your activities.
Almost anyone can develop metatarsalgia, but you're at higher risk if you:
Left untreated, metatarsalgia might lead to pain in other parts of the same or opposite foot and pain elsewhere in the body, such as the low back or hip, due to limping (altered gait) from foot pain.