What is Metatarsalgia

The most common source of Ball of Foot pain is metatarsalgia. The metatarsal bones are designed to equally share the weight of a person during walking and daily activities. When this delicate balance between bones is disrupted, the result can be mild to intense foot pain. The term metatarsalgia refers to the number of problems people can experience in this area.

Causes of Metatarsalgia

The causes of metatarsalgia pain can be attributed to a number of factors, from bone abnormalities to systemic diseases such as diabetes.

The most common cause is an alteraton of the posture in the long bones (metatarsals) of the foot. These bones absorb the weight during walking, and if one of the bones falls down through weakness or lack of support, is abnormally long or fractured from stress, it will create dysfunction among all bones.

Other causes include:

  • An enlarged metatarsal head.
  • Arthritis or any degenerative disease of the joints.
  • Systemic conditions such as diabetes, which can cause nerve-type pain in the foot.
  • Calluses or skin lesions that cause the weight on the foot to be unevenly distributed.
  • Ageing, which tends to thin out or shift the fatty tissue of the foot pad.
  • Sports that place tremendous pounding on the ball of the foot, like jogging.
  • Ill-fitting shoes that put pressure on the bones of the feet.
  • Shoes with small toe boxes that cramp your toes.

Symptoms of Metatarsalgia

  • The main symptom of metatarsalgia is pain in the ball of the foot, and is most pronounced when walking (especially on your toes) or engaging in sports. Since the foot supports the body in all its activities, chronic pain in the ball of the foot impacts the ability to perform ordinary tasks.
  • Discomfort when wearing shoes and socks.
  • Pain during activities where impact is applied to the foot, such as running.

Relief and Prevention of Metatarsalgia

Treatment of metatarsalgia depends on the cause.


Your Podiatrist will assess the shoes you wear is the first step in eliminating and preventing the painful condition of Metatarsalgia. The objective is to find appropriate footwear that distributes the weight and pressure evenly across the foot, rather than concentrates it in the toes and ball of the foot.

Anti-inflammatory Medications

Over-the-counter medications such as Ibuprofen, Voltaren etc. may help to reduce the symptoms but do not correct the main “postural” reasons for irritation so a recurrence is likely.

Biomechanical Assessment

Your podiatrist will perform a thorough biomechanical assessment of the alignment of your toes and feet, analyse the way you walk and run to determine the best course of long-term treatment.

Supportive foot arch orthotics and footwear changes may be recommended to prevent the abnormal collapsing of the arch and prevent a re-occurrence of metatarsalgia.

Surgery for Metatarsalgia

When metatarsalgia does not respond to these treatments, surgical solutions may be required If this is the case we can provide a referral to the best surgeons in Sydney in our experience.

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