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How Do I Treat Metatarsalgia?

Metatarsalgia is the condition characterized by the pain and inflammation in the metatarsal bones of the foot. This part of the foot contains long bones and they have the primary role while walking, running or playing. Thus, the chances of wear and tear are high in metatarsals.1 Various treatment approaches are available for the management of metatarsalgia.

How Do I Treat Metatarsalgia?

Various treatment strategies are adopted to treat metatarsalgia. Treatment depends upon the cause of metatarsalgia. Following are the treatment strategies applied during the management of metatarsalgia:

Rest: Rest is an important method to manage metatarsalgia. Taking rest allows the foot to relax and inflammation is reduced. As metatarsalgia is caused due to overuse, taking rest may heal the pain and inflammation.

Footwear: Proper footwear is a prerequisite to treat metatarsalgia. Very tight footwear of high heeled footwear should be avoided. Deeper and cushioning footwear should be used. Worn out footwear should be replaced with new footwear.

Reduce Weight: Obesity increases the pressure on the foot leading to metatarsalgia. The patient should reduce the weight to overturn the condition. It should be kept in mind that while doing the weight reducing exercises, there should not be extra impact on the foot.

Pain Killers: To manage the pain, various painkiller medications are used. The pain killer medications may include diclofenac, ibuprofen or any other effective NSAID.

Exercise: Various stretching exercises are recommended by the physician to manage pain due to metatarsalgia. These exercises include stretching the muscles of calf.

Surgery: Surgery may also be an option in metatarsalgia when the non-invasive therapies failed to provide any relief.

Steroidal Therapy: Steroidal therapy may also be used in severe conditions. Steroids may also be used in the form of injection for immediate relief.2, 3


Metatarsal bones are the bones of the foot. These are situated between the tarsals and the phalanges of the foot. Metatarsal bones are analogous to the metacarpal bones of the hand. These are five long bones. The metatarsal bones injury is one of the prominent injuries associated with playing football. Various measures are taken by the players to protect the bones from getting injured.4 Metatarsalgia is the condition present with the pain in the metatarsal region. The pain generally exists under the ball of the foot or the metatarsal heads. The pain may be due to variety of factors. The pain may be due to wearing wrong footwear or high heel footwear. Wearing very tight footwear may also cause problem. Metatarsalgia may also be caused due to overuse of the foot or doing activities that have high impact on the foot.5


Forceful Activities: Metatarsalgia is caused due to the overuse of the foot or indulging the foot in to some activities which creates excess force on the foot. This may include intense exercise, training or playing any game.

Obesity: Excess weight may put more pressure on the foot. The foot has to bear more pressure during walking or running hence increasing the risk of metatarsalgia.

Previous Foot Injury: The condition with previous foot injury may cause metatarsalgia. The person having stress fracture or have a history of major fracture increases the risk of metatarsalgia.

Poorly Fitting Footwear: Poorly fitting footwear causes discomfort to the foot and cause metatarsalgia. The footwear should be such that it allows proper space to the foot. This reduces pressure on the foot. This condition may also be caused due to high heels.

Disease Conditions: Various disease conditions are also involved in causing metatarsalgia. Freiberg’s disease, arthritis, gout, diabetes and tight Achilles tendon are some of these conditions. Morton’s neuroma is the condition in which fibrous tissue grows around third and fourth metatarsals. This also causes metatarsalgia.

Aging: Thick pad below the foot is present to protect the ball of the foot. In older age, this fat pad becomes thin, exposing the ball. This may also cause metatarsalgia.6


Various treatment strategies available for metatarsalgia includes rest, correct footwear, pain killer, and weight reduction. Steroidal therapy and surgery can be used in severe conditions.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 3, 2022

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