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Is Metatarsalgia A Serious Condition?

Metatarsalgia is a common overuse injury of the ball of the foot (the area just before the foot). It involves both the joints and bones of the foot. It is more common in athletes who are involved in high –impact sports such as jumping, running, etc, in track and field runners, and who are indulged in tennis, football and soccer sports.[1] Its symptoms involve pain at the ball of the foot (felt more when you perform physical activities related to the foot), numbness, and tingling in the toe. It can be treated easily with the use of soft pads or sole, painkillers, heat application and foot surgery in severe cases. [2]Is Metatarsalgia A Serious Condition?

Is Metatarsalgia A Serious Condition?

Metatarsalgia is a condition characterized by inflammation of the ball of the foot. The inflammation is located in joints and bones of metatarsals. Metatarsals are bones of the foot that join the toes with the ankles. Metatarsalgia develops more often below second, third and fourth metatarsals.[3] Metatarsalgia is not a serious condition and can be tackled with various treatment options. If it is left untreated, it may result in the altered gait leading to pain in the back or hip. Metatarsalgia is triggered by persistent stress on the metatarsal bones. It can also be caused by a sudden change in movement of the forefoot.[4] It is more commonly seen in people who actively participate in high impact sports such as running, football, tennis, and other soccer sports. The factors that contribute to Metatarsalgia are-

  • Intense training and activity of the foot
  • Poorly fitted or loose footwear
  • High arched foot
  • Prominent metatarsal heads
  • Wearing high heels
  • Hammertoe
  • Overweight
  • Fractures in the metatarsals
  • Morton’s neuroma
  • Callus on the bottom of feet
  • Flat feet
  • Stiff ankle
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Gout
  • Tight Achilles tendon
  • Excessive side to side movement of the foot
  • Forefoot trauma
  • Diabetes
  • Old age[5]

Metatarsalgia Symptoms

Its symptoms develop slowly over years and appear with sudden onset. The symptoms of Metatarsalgia are following-

  • Pain is sharp, shooting, stabbing and burning in nature
  • Pain is located at the area near the toes and ball of the foot
  • Pain can be mild or severe
  • Pain is aggravated more when toes are flexed
  • Irritation in the foot area
  • Tingling sensation in the toes
  • Numbness in the toes
  • Pain increases during increased physical activities
  • A feeling of a pebble in the foot[6]

Metatarsalgia Diagnosis

Metatarsalgia is detected by close physical examination of the affected foot, and evaluation of the symptoms. Your physician can diagnose the condition with X-ray, bone scan, ultrasound and MRI that can reveal fractures and other abnormalities in the foot. Blood tests are done to rule out gout, arthritis, and diabetes.

Metatarsalgia Treatment

Metatarsalgia can be treated by treating its causes. It is a harmless condition that improves over time. It can be treated by following methods- Rest- resting the foot is necessary to treat Metatarsalgia. One should avoid physical activities that put extra pressure and strain on the foot. Elevation of the foot helps n reduction of inflammation. It is important to avoid high-impact sports. Ice Application- application of ice packs on the affected area for 20- 30 minutes many times a day can reduce the inflammation of the foot. Wearing Proper Shoes- switch to rightly fitted shoes to avoid stress on the affected area. Painkillers- painkillers like ibuprofen, aspirin, etc. can relieve pain and inflammation of the foot Surgery- surgery is done in cases of hammer toe or claw toes to rectify the deformity.[7]


Metatarsalgia is an inflammatory condition of the foot. It is provoked by high impact sports and others discussed above. Metatarsalgia is not a serious condition and can be managed by removal of its causes.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 4, 2022

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